What Are You?

May 2, 2010

Breaking news: People at work are starting to realize that I'm Chinese.

At lunch the other day, we were talking about middle names. A Chinese girl in the room mentioned that she has a Chinese name and an English name. She had to explain that her English name had no relevance to her Chinese name. It was not a translation, the meanings are not the same. Apparently, her mom's co-worker chose it for her when she was 5. Typical.

I happened to chuckle at that fact, thinking, I know a similar story about my sister's name (scroll to fact #1). I also happened to chime in about how Chinese names are generally not translations, and that's when they asked if I was Chinese.

"Of course" was my initial reply. Then, I got curious. "What did you think I was?"

All of a sudden, everyone came up with their version of what they thought I was.

"I thought 100% you were Filipino"

"You don't look Chinese. Maybe Filipino or mix..."

And my personal favourite: "I was pretty sure you were Hispanic!"

It was pretty funny hearing what people thought I was. But then it also go me thinking, because sometimes I am confused by someone's nationality. They may look a certain way one day and the next day, it all changes. So how do you go about asking someone their nationality without the risk of offending them, because for some people this is a very sensitive issue.


choifish said...

I get Korean mostly, and once in a while First Nations! lol

I think a nice way of asking is like "What's your background?"

Andrew said...

HAHA first nations

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