April 2nd, 2003
- What does your first name mean?
James means "supplanter" in Hebrew. It's a form of "Jacob," which means "conqueror" according to some sites. I've also read that James has the connotation of "friend."
- What does your middle name mean?
Tze-Ming is actually two distinct words in Chinese. Tze can mean "pond" or "swamp," but in my parent's intent, it means "radiance."
Ming means "people."
- What does your last name mean?
In the Chinese language, there are a number of words which serve specifically as surnames. Hsiao is one of those words, but at the same time, it can mean "gloomy" or "lonely" as well as a kind of artemisia, like wormwood/absinthe.
- So what does your name mean when put together?
Lonely, radiant supplanter of people?
Gloomy conqueror of swamp people?
Radiant, absinthe-y friend of people?
- What would you have been named if you were the opposite gender?
More than likely a Chinese name which I couldn't give you one inkling of insight into...
- Any other name oddities?
My Social Security Card (and now my paycheck...) actually lists "Jimmy" as my first name. My parents came up with "Jimmy" because they thought it was a good approximation of Tze-Ming (pronounced Zuh-Meeng).
The "Tze" in my middle name is actually part of a generational poem. Our family's Chinese names follow this poetic system which defines how we are to be named. Each word of the poem dictates the names of the following generation.
All the members of my generation share the "Tze" part of our name--my brother is Tze-Wei, and my cousin, Daphne, is Tze-Yi (of course, she spells it "Ziyi," in the modern pinyin Anglicization system). My father's generation all share "Shih," which means "world."
When my brother, the first of his generation, was born, my father went to my grandfather and asked him what the poem was, so he could determine a good name. My grandfather got the poem wrong, and so both my generation and that of my children will have names which don't quite make sense...
- Do you like your name?
- What do you like best about it?
That part of it is "Ming."
- What do you like least about it?
The spelling of Hsiao. It's rare when I actually find someone who knows how to pronounce it from seeing it written down...of course, I don't live in California--I live in Georgia.
BTW, it's pronounced 'shyao.'
- If you HAD to change your name (witness protection program, whatever), what would you want it to be?
Philip Andrew. Although, I'd like to keep my last name. Phil A. Hsiao (or Phil A. Xiao). Say it fast.
I'm off to kick Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, and Tefe Holland's asses...