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Name change can be a tough choice

Michelle Xie said she felt like a new person when she decided to replace her Chinese name with an English alternative.

Michelle Xie said she felt like a new person when she decided to replace her Chinese name with an English alternative.

“There were many names (to choose from),” said Xie, 27, who changed her name on Sunday. “I was named by my parents, and this time I gave myself a name.”

The decision to adopt an English name is faced by many immigrants, who find there are advantages to making the switch.

Last month, a University of B.C. study found that job hunters with English names had a 40 per cent greater chance of finding employment.

Xie, whose given name is Liang, moved to Vancouver from China in April.

She said people struggled to pronounce and remember her name and that’s why she switched to Michelle.

“I didn’t want to disappoint my family and forget about them and China. That’s why I chose this one. It sounds like my family name.”

Natalie Tan moved to Coquitlam from Singapore in May, and said giving up her given name — Peng Peng — was difficult.

“I didn’t really want to have an English name,” Tan said. “I thought my (given) name was quite easy. And it’s me.”

But Tan, 37, said her husband’s friends could never remember her name, and she realized that it would make everyone’s lives easier if she changed it.

“(Now) they don’t give me weird looks,” she said. “It’s (about) survival.”

 
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