Monday, 7 January 2008


After Isaac was born and the dust has settled, the first order of business was to pick a name for him.

Those of you who have been following this blog will know that the Mrs and I had always wanted to stick to a simple single syllable name. One that is not made up but an actual name with meaning.

Some of the names that we were considering were of course Kai; Kale; Rafe; Hugh; Joe; Josh; Matt; Scott and many many more.

Maybe due to most people guessing that Baby was going to be a girl, we did not really feel the urgency to decide on the boy's name.

I remembered very clearly that when Dr N got Baby out and handed him over to the Mrs, I was moving my head about to try and see the gender. Once I saw "it", I told the Mrs that we have a boy.

Baby's Godma and my sis were the first 2 visitors that we had the following morning and by then we still have not gotten any closer to picking out a name and that was when it hit me. Since we know that Godma is going to love him like her own and she has always wanted to name her boy Isaac, if she had one, I discussed with the Mrs if we should name Baby Isaac in her honour. I do like Isaac and if it was not because we wanted a single syllable name it would definitely have been on my list.

So there you have it. The reason why we name him Isaac was really because of his Godma.

The next thing on our agenda was also Baby's name but this time his dialect name and its spelling.

I don't think I ever mentioned this I'm actually Teochew but due my mum is a Cantonese and my sis and I were brought up speaking our mother tongue (Cantonese) I am embarrassed to say that I do not know any Teochew. I may be able to understand a little from listening but spoken wise, it might as well have been Hindi.

When we picked the Chinese name for Isaac, we were really looking at it from the Cantonese point of view. Did I mention that the Mrs is also Cantonese? So when Isaac was born suddenly we were thinking of the dialect name in order to register his birth.

We had to go around asking people who are Teochew or know others who are Teochew. It was a little embarrassing because they will give me the funny (if you are Teochew how come you have to ask me) look. After I explained that I can't speak Teochew they will then give me the (then go ask your father) look. Sad to say after spending years perfecting his Cantonese with my mum, my dad has "lost" most of his Teochew by now.

You will be surprised to learn that for the words 天赐 there are so many variations. From the different people that we asked, we came across at least 4 different pronunciations. A few of them even sound similar to Hokkien.

My BIL suggested that I go and patronise my favourite Teochew porridge store and then write the words down and ask the stall keeper its pronunciation. I was desperate enough to really thought of carrying it out.

Thankfully my dad reminded that my immediate neighbour is a Teochew and the old man speaks really fluent Teochew too. So one morning we approached him with Isaac's name and asked him for its pronunciation. I am glad to say that of all the different variations, we like his best. It sounded most like Teochew.

So I present to you, Isaac's dialect name: Tan Tiang Tze. I dare not say we got the spelling right but luckily for us in terms of dialect there is no such thing as right or wrong. We believe we got the spelling as close to the actual pronunciation as possible.

Next came the Hanyu Pinyin. You would think that this is easy enough right? We thought so too as we were pretty confident that it is Chen Tianci but when we went for the birth registration at Mt E, the lady searched her dictionary program, 赐 spell Si instead of Ci. Thinking that they must be right we left it as Si.

The Mrs and I although have already gotten the birth cert printed and laminated were still rather disturbed that others will call Isaac Tiansi in future, decided to check with Godma's MIL. She was a Chinese professor in NUS so she must know right?!

She checked for us and came back with the explanation that both Si (读 音) and Ci (语 音) are not wrong. She suspected that they who came up with the dictionary program must have decided to use only the (读 音) in their program.

After much discussion the Mrs decided to try her luck and change Isaac's name in the birth cert. Originally the lady at Mt E told us that it will cost S$60 to amend the name but we were pleasantly surprised when she called one day to inform the Mrs that she has spoken to ICA and they will allow us to amend for no cost at all.

So we went down to ICA on Tuesday to amend Isaac's Hanyu Pinyin to Chen Tianci.

There is one thing I would like to check with you parents out there. Is it true that when the kids sit for their examinations, they have to write or worse still shade their name in full? Meaning the English, dialect and Hanyu Pinyin name? We were told that apparently this is true for some school so poor Isaac may have to write his full name each time he sits for this examinations:

Isaac Tan Tiang Tze (Chen Tianci)

Quite a handful, don't you think?


Chew Family said...

Hi husband voice,

Nice chinese name you got for Issac, Tianci
Btw, actually you do not need to give him dialect name. You can just named him as Issac Tan (Chen Tianci) will do. I've named my boy with just that. Kayden Chew (Zhou YueHeng. If not need to think of dialect name for his hanyu pinyin name is really headache.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Sharyn,

Thanks. We like the name a lot mainly for its meaning. We even got 天恩 in case Baby turned out to be a girl.

Actually I prefer to leave the dialect name and obmit the Hanyu Pinyin. What the lady at Mt E told us is true. Hanyu Pinyin only serves as an aid for people who to not know how to pronounce his Chinese name.

We were really considering but the fee to amend cost S$60.

Anyway at this day and age, most people I'm sure will call him Isaac.

I taught my mum who understands little English how to pronounce Isaac. I told her to call him I Z Tan.

It worked! Ha Ha

Nicole said...

Few days back, I've also done a post on 'name'. I've wanted to change the format of cleo's name as in, cleo lee XXX XXX but then, as I already have a headstart with claire's name format being, Lee XXX XXX Claire, many advised me to follow suit to avoid confusion to them(in future) and to myself as well. That's quite true. *giggles*

And another thing, I seriously opt out dialect name as my own name sucks when translated into dialect name, hence I've opt it out for claire and are going to do so for cleo as well. In fact, the daddy had pestered the geomancer whom we consulted so many times on cleo's(also claire's) name that he buay tahan. Said that the list that he had given us was the best liao. *laughs*

That's fast of you guys to go and register your boy's name. We had in fact, just decided on cleo's chinese name. So now, it's about waiting for the daddy to be free to go and register cleo's name and do her birth cert. *smiles*

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi nicole,

Yeah I saw your post on the names for Cleo. I agree with the majority that you should probably stick to the same format as Clare.

Not satisfied with the list of names you got from the geomancer, you can always approach another one. Remember my BIL? Took him 3 geomancers and about 40 days to decide on his son's name.

Actually it really did occur to me to drop the dialect name altogether but I guess that is my way of clinging on to my dialect. Sure, my IC says I'm Teochew but besides that there is nothing Teochew about me. So I thought to myself if I leave out the dialect name for Isaac then he will fare worse than me. Only IC says Teochew. He will not even have a dialect name. Hmmmm.... not sure if I am making sense to you.

For some weird reason only known to herself, she wanted to register Isaac's birth before the New Year so we went down and got it done by 31st December.

Anonymous said...

hey! so you really named Issac Tian Ci!! i'm not sure if you remembered me mentioning before my dad's name is also Tianci. i seriously think Ci is the correct spelling instead of Si. Si is a totally different pronunciation.

i didn't translate my boy's chinese name into dialect as my hubby's is hakka and we know for sure the name's gonna sounds very funny in hakka. we simply have the same spellings n pronuciations for both dialect n chinese names and that is Javier Lam Jing xx (Lam Jing'xx)are you serious abt the shading of names in exam papers? i remembered i used to shade only my dialect name. if that's really the case, my boy's gonna have a handful when it comes to shading his name too! hahahah

Anonymous said...

haha. Think i'll have to do away with the dialect name too cos my hubby is hainanese and not many people know hainanese ...altho my personal preference is to include both dialect and hanyu pinyin name cos i feel it's more complete?? But I guess u r rite that if already have a Christian name, most pple will be calling u by that anyway.

Nicole said...

Indeed, my hubby did wanna consult another geomancer! But I told him no need lah, the more you consult, sometimes, the more confused you'll get and why waste the money! *giggles*

Ya, I'll stick to the same format with Claire's name format. I wouldn't wanna confuse myself. :)

Anonymous said...

I do remember writing my dialect plus hanyu pinyin name for exams in the past, but as a kid, it didn't bug me much 'coz every other kid had to do the same.

Only when I grew older, did it start to feel cumbersome. So I had my hanyu pinyin name removed from my IC some years ago.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hey Missy,

Yeah! Like I said in my earlier post, we really like the name Tianci so we stuck by it. Plus we really felt that he is indeed God's gift.

I'm not sure about that which was why I was appealing to parents to come forward and clarify. This was what we heard from the Mt E lady.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi bebe,

I understand what you mean by including everything in to be more complete.

To a certain extend that's how I feel too hence I included dialect and Hanyu Pinyin.

Actually it looks like majority of the babies for our next generation will lose their dialect names.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi nicole,

So I guess you will have to find a combination that you like from this list for Miss Cleo.

When will you be announcing her Chinese name?

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi evelyn,

I had to do the same too when I was a kid but the problem Isaac faces is most of his classmates will either not be having dialect name or Hanyu Pinyin or both.

Hopefully the teachers will grant him more time to complete his particulars before commencing the exams. Ha Ha Ha

I had my Hanyu Pinyin removed too when I turned 30 and had to change my IC.

Nicole said...

We have already chosen her chinese name. Finally. *giggles*

I think the daddy will go and register her birth cert at the hosp and I shall announce the chinese name. Now with anything regards to the two girls, anything that's 'sensitive', I think I'll have to seek the daddy's consent before I put it up in the blog. In case, he have his own unique idea and I'll have to remove the content from the blog again. It's quite bothersome. Haha...

Anyway, we'll also taking the word' 恩'. Initially, totally didn't consider this word as we have an idea of our own what we wanted, turned out the name that we chose, totally cannot and moreover, it doesn't sounds right either. So we ended up with 恩 and I'm staring to love the sound of it. Find this word quite stylo actually. *smiles*

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi nicole,

not sure if we'll consider 恩 stylo but it is definitely a name that we like.

Hopefully the next one will be a girl then we'll have our 天恩.

Trina said...

i can identify with your "agony" on dialect names! when we picked the chinese name we did not consider how it'll sound in dialect. so zephan's chinese name is 劭轩, hanyu pinyin Shao Xuan. We used this for both the "english" spelling and hanyu pinyin in his birth cert.

after a few weeks, we went to visit my teochew grandmother, and she was wondering how to pronounce his name! amazingly, none of the folks knows it! after numerous phone calls to our family clan (and i mean pple like my grandmother's nephews n nieces) we finally found the pronounciation, and it sounds totally different! i think the sound is like "hsiao hng". my aunt commented that next time must bear in mind the true dialect pronounciation when naming our kids.. :p

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi trina,

We are a dying breed. From the above comments you will see that most people our generation are opting out the dialect name and leaving only the hanyu pinyin and English (as in Christian) name.

I have to say the idea did cross my mind but mine was a little more extreme. I was considering only Isaac Tan and then his Chinese characters. So no dialect and Hanyu Pinyin.

Seems like Teochew is still easier than Hakka and Hainanese.