Name and Multilingualism レタスちゃん?三か国語で子育て:名前編

In January, Nina started at a new daycare center.  So far, so good.  Few days ago, when I was picking her up, I noticed the teachers call her something different.  She didn’t seem to mind, she just responded.  I was wondering if it was a nickname or something.

Then I realized, the teachers were calling her Xin Cai -New Vegetable

As I wrote about here, Nina has a kanji to her name, 新菜。In Chinese, it is pronounced Xin Cai.  Hmm…now what.  Technically, there’s nothing wrong with what the teachers are doing.  Is it a weird name though?

I asked the Chinese teacher and she thought it was fine.  As a name, she kind of shrugged her shoulders and said, sure, it’s not traditional, but there’s so many characters that can be used it’s not like you would know she was being called “New Veggie.” If Nina cared, they can give her different characters.

Hmm….we named her Nina, so we prefer that she was called Nina. Nina then turned to me and said, “I don’t mind.  I like Xin Cai”


Well, I guess if you don’t mind and no one is making fun, then why not.  I asked her to let me and the teachers know if you decide that you would rather not be called Xin Cai and left it be.

Ah, the drama of too many languages and different meaning of the same characters.


あれ、もうニックネームとかついてんのかな~、と思って耳を澄ますと、どうやら、新菜の漢字をそのまま中国語で Xin Cai と読んでるっぽい。え、でも、それって、中国語だと、そのまま新しい野菜、って呼ばれてるよね。そこんとこどうなんだろ。からかわれたりしないかな、と思って中国語の先生に聞いてみると、ま、ちょっと変わった名前だけど、別に呼ばれたって漢字が分かるわけじゃないから大丈夫、なんだったら同じ読みの違う漢字を使う?と。気楽な返事が返ってきた。

うーん、読み方変えて、更に漢字変えたら名前の意味ないじゃーん。せっかく色々考えて名前つけたのに。(名前に関してはこちら)という一人ツッコミは無視して、新菜、ってもともと日本語の名前でニイナって読みだからそっちにしてもらって、いいかしら、と聞いてみてるところに本人、「私Xin Caiでいいよ」と。










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