Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Story Time

So I was chatting with my good friend Mitchell Irons about the topic of identity, wherein he asked me, "how do you introduce yourself?" particularly in light of my internetz handle and the fact that I have an Anglo-Saxon name attached to my Chinese name because I got really fucking sick of having people mispronounce my Chinese name and preferred to take on an English moniker so I wouldn't have people butcher it in my hearing.

Anyway, that's not the story I was gonna share today.

Mitchell writes about the French method of name introduction:

In French, we introduce ourselves to people by saying “Je m’appelle mitchellirons.com”. In our first French classes, we don’t learn that “Je m’appelle” is a reflexive construction of the verb “appeller,” which means “to call” as in “to describe.” Instead, we’re told that “Je m’appelle” means, “My name is.” And idiomaticlly, it does: it’s the phrase used in the same situations as “my name is” used in English. But take that construction apart, and the difference between “I am so-and-so” and “My name is so-and-so” becomes as clear as day. When we say, “Je m’appelle,” we are saying something akin to “I am called by,” or “The descriptor I use to describe myself is…”
When I was four years old, my family and I went shopping at Yaohan, and I saw this awesome teddy bear I really liked. (He kinda looks like Tenderheart Bear. Minus the heart on his tummy.) I liked his softness and I asked my dad to buy it, and I read on the tag he was accompanied by, "Je m'appelle Teddy".

Me being, you know, Chinese and not French, and still unable to quite pronounce unfamiliar words, I thought it was pronounced something like "je-maah-play" and spelled "jemaple".

I called it "Jemaple" about immediately, to everyone who would talk to me I introduced my new teddy as "Jemaple". My brother and father tried to correct me all the time, saying, "it means 'my name is'!" I didn't care, I thought they were just h8rs on my teddy bear's awesome wicked name.

Now, of course, I know that they were right, and I also know what the real meaning is.

But Jemaple will always be Jemaple to me.

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