To help non-English-speaking Chinese people avoid the tragedy of ending up with offbeat English names, a 26-year-old American entrepreneur has launched a website that aids them in selecting better-sounding names.
Lindsay Jernigan’s website, BestEnglishName.com, is a naming service for Chinese students, employees or other individuals who need a foreign name in order to seek out opportunities abroad.Hi my name is…
The site charges as little as 148 yuan ($22) for providing appropriate name suggestions. Clients can either utilize the one-on-one consultation service or use the online version where users need to fill out Jernigan’s online questionnaire to receive name options.
Jernigan was working for a real estate firm in Shanghai where she had co-workers with names like Apple, Boat and Olilia when an idea struck.
“I noticed that Westerners would immediately marginalize them and not see them as real people – people who were smart or capable,” Jernigan told CNN Money. “They would take them as a cartoon character and get really hung up on the name.”Shine a light on her
She later discovered that for a culture that places such high importance on getting the right name as it may bring good luck, resources to help guide Chinese people pick appropriate Western names are very scarce.
After quitting her job and setting up her website, she began her mission to offer customers one better-sounding name at a time.
Shan Hongjun, a Chinese technology firm employee who sought Jernigan’s help, asked for an English name that can easily be pronounced by both Chinese and foreigners.>
He was given an option to choose between Harrison and Carson. “I thought Carson might sound funny – like ‘son of a car,” he said. “So I chose Harrison because the name reminded me of ‘son of Harry,’ and I think everyone must know Harry Potter.”
Harrison is just one of the thousands of customers who have successfully found a name from Jernigan’s services. >
Jernigan told the Telegraph that inappropriate names such as Furry or Ashtray could lead to their owners being “marginalized” or “laughed at behind their backs”.
“Your name is your first impression, it is what people are going to remember you by, it is your personal brand. So if you have one that makes people uncomfortable or is just completely confusing then it is going to be a barrier in all future conversations, introductions or relationships,” she said.