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May 11, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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the Wong View

I like my name. And as it turns out, so do a lot of other Asians. I recently discovered this fact when I was deciding on an email address. I am fortunate enough to have a surname that rhymes with ‘.com’, but my darn parents could only conjure up something as disgustingly unoriginal as ‘Shirley’. Every possible ‘shirley wong’ option was taken. Therefore, unless I wanted an email like ‘’, I had to think of an alternative.

While my illness meant no column last week, it gave me an opportunity to think. I realised two things: Firstly, I have no middle name. I concluded that if I had a middle name, all my problems would be sorted. Secondly, my life was very similar to that of my cat (more on that later). So, in my feverish state, I scowled aimlessly to find a suitable name.

I rang my mum and asked why I only had two-thirds of a title. Actually, it turns out I do have a middle name. Except it’s Chinese. And it’s pronounced ‘wing’… Thanks mum. ‘Shirley Wing Wong’ is not a name I would wish on any child. Luckily, she elaborated a bit further and told me that the translation of ‘wing’ is ‘happy’. Shirley ‘Happy’ Wong does have a certain ring to it… But so far, things were not looking good. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this up, but my sister’s name means ‘the poor house.’ I think it’s clear that I am the favourite in the family.)

From my experience, it seems that Asians and middle names are not something that usually go together. But after talking to people, I found out that middle names often do have some significance. Apparently, they offer richness and meaning to our lives. For example, I have one friend whose middle name is her mother’s first name. I also have another who has had The Young and the Restless immortalised in both her first and middle name—her mum, being addicted to this soap whilst pregnant, decided it would be fun to name her daughter after the sexy villain. What a great story to tell your child. After some consideration and refinement, I decided to apply a similar method to random books in the library.

My first attempts had little success. The list of names and/or words I accumulated were as follows: Alfred, Biscuit, Peri, Mushroom, Particle, and many more two-syllable nouns. What if I just named myself after some significant literary character? Like… Harry Potter. Maybe someone from the Da Vinci Code—or basically any book that has been turned into a movie. I can see it now. Perhaps, Shirley ‘Lassie’ Wong. Or Shirley ‘Casino Royale’ Wong. Why not? It opens a world of possibilities.

While those methods failed, I opted for a more conventional way of choosing names—a randomised search on Google. I searched species, quotes and plants. Interestingly, I found a group called the Middle Name Rebels (a joy I have never experienced). They outlined that middle names offer “a hidden world that we didn’t know about.” Intriguing. What is this “hidden world”? And is it something that I will ever gain entry to? The mysterious middle name remains an enigma to me.

Middle names are harder than I thought. After much consideration, I decided that perhaps a middle name is not for me. And in all honesty, I’d only be a part-time middle-name user, never someone who truly appreciates the magnificence of it. Oh well. At least there is the ‘Wing/Happy/Lassie/Black-Beauty/Harry Potter/Biscuit/Alfred/Particle’ Wong view.

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Comments (2)

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  1. hugh says:

    Hi There,

    Just thought I would say that shirleywongnz is still available at gmail []


  2. Laura McQuillan says:

    sooo creepy

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