Thursday, February 17, 2011

What’s in a name?

My name and the mix of Japanese and Swedish names and the problems that this have caused to the Japanese system is another long story that I aim to post about when I find the energy (little Baby Sunshine has started a new routine of waking up at 4AM, then promptly going back to sleep at around 7, just about the time when I need to get ready for the commuting war, tapping my energy).

When I write e-mails in Japanese, I make it a point of writing my name, first name only if it's someone I know a little, in roman letters. This is done deliberately by me to position and remind the Japanese person that I'm not Japanese (making them go "oh, look how good Japanese he can write" and not "this guy obviously can't string a proper sentence together, he needs to go back to school") which might be the case if I would sign off with only my Japanese family name.

It gives a pretty strong contrast to the text in Japanese and also signals that it's ok to call me by the first name (which I much prefer, calling me formally by my Japanese family name with a –san attached to it might not get my attention).

However, lately this has caused significant variations in the e-mails with a new partner company I'm corresponding with. For the sake of it, say my name is "Tomas Yutani (湯谷)" and I sign the mails with "Tomas". Over the course of three responses from my Japanese counterpart, he first started with "Dear Mr. Tomas", then, the next time followed by Tomas様 (the courtesy "san" in chinese characters) and then latest 湯谷 様 completely in Japanese. It seems like he is going for a gradual shift to Japanese on me, but I'll keep signing off with "Tomas", I won't yield!


Janne Morén said...

We avoided the whole name mess by simply keeping our respective last names.

With my job (I'm a researcher) it's important to keep your name throughout your career if you can so changing to my wife's Japanese surname would be a bad idea. And she's the only child of her family so she doesn't want to drop her family name.

And a Swedish-Japanese double name - let's just say we're not prepared to deal with the torrent of problems we'd get from a name that both Japanese and Swedish computer systems would be unable to deal with correctly.

Chris said...

Hold your ground!!

Climate Morio said...

Purely based on the information in this blog (fake name provided, general tone of posts, etc.) i will take the liberty of assuming that your real name, Swedish Schmedish, is actually Judas Weyland.


captain krokus said...

And you work for weyland-yutani corp? I thought it was OCP?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Janne - Jepp, jepp, you can see my latest post to get more info on the whole issue that I've run into... At least "Moren" isn't that hard to katakanize.

Chris - I'm not giving him an inch, I keep signing the way I want to!

Climate Morio and Krokus - Haha, Ok, at least someone got the Aliens reference, good to know that there are some nerds out there that get my references.

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