Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Philosophy and the Mobile Phone Shop

24 Responses

  • BenWilson,

    I seem to recall that the Samurai also had the right to sign their fellow contractors neck with their swords any time they felt like it, so taking responsibility with a real signature probably didn't seem worthwhile.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    They also had to stick a long knife in their guts and move it left to right to commit suicide, which they would have had to do if they'd ever pretended to be someone else and got caught.

    I'm thinking they aren't really a modern role model for administrative and identity security systems.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Making the inscrutable more scrutable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I have an inkan (Japanese name stamp) now, having been forced to get one for some of my university duties. I had resisted it for some years, on the grounds that there is no way to put anything like my real name on one. There is a kanji word [meaning something like 'drizzle'] with a pronunciation close to my family name - but it is not one of the official "name" kanji, so cannot be used. Which leaves only katakana (angular symbols representing sounds equivalent to Japanese syllables), which even if used "correctly" would misrepresent every syllable of my name. In practice, the "official" rendering was assigned by office staff who did not know the pronunciation of my name, adding further distortions. I've been stuck with the error ever since; thus in Japan my "one true signature" is anything but.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    linger that sounded like the perfect opportunity just to choose the name you like best. I'd have picked something like "Strong Gentle Man" in kanji.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I'd have picked something like "Strong Gentle Man" in kanji.

    Really? I'd have gone with "bad motherfucker", myself.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Honne and Tatemae, Jack.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I'm sticking with my Chinese name, Peng, Zhi Shi.

    'Wisdom, Knowledge, Intelligence'. And humility?

    Well, that was one of them, the other one was 'excite, quickly, earth female'. Eh?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Pulp Fiction, actually.

    Slightly more seriously: I don't have a problem with my name being mangled during transliteration to another language/orthography. English does this to other languages, I don't see why we shouldn't take our lumps with the rest of them.

    And I honestly don't know what I'd do if I had a chance to come up with a meaningful name in another language. How do you want to present yourself (honne, as you point out) to other people? It's like picking a domain name but more serious.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    Nice post, Hayden. Looking forward to my first trip to Japan, in a couple of months. Hope we have someone nearly as cool when we all try to sort out our prepays (I've heard that sometimes it's not easy for foreigners to get them, but that may only be true for cockheaded amurricans who bluster into the store and shout at everyone, who knows).

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    And I honestly don't know what I'd do if I had a chance to come up with a meaningful name in another language. How do you want to present yourself (honne, as you point out) to other people? It's like picking a domain name but more serious.

    I've tried to do something vaguely along these lines here, when I last updated my passport I put down my occupation as 'Hero'. Declined, oh well.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I once tried 'fungus-plucker' for 'occupation' on an IRD form.
    I still cant understand why they refused it...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    @Linger which university and what do you do? I've been trying to talk to some of the unis for a while with no luck

    @Morgan from what I can tell you need an address, but this can be a hotel you're staying at. But it helped that I already had a prepay phone that a friend of a friend had lent me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    How do you want to present yourself (honne, as you point out) to other people?

    A name is a big choice. Letting the locals name you isn't a bad idea, at least they'll get it right, and it could be nicely personalized. Then again, it could be a cruel joke too. But there's almost as big a chance that you could accidentally have that just through your own choice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Edward Siddle,

    aren't these stamps part of how japanese can get away with committing pension fraud too? pensions can be authorised using the stamp, rather than a signature being needed....or something. i'm a bit hazy on the details. my wife told me the story after reading it in saturday's dompost, but i can't find a version online that actually mentions the roles of the inkan stamps,
    though this one does outline the general problem.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    A name is a big choice. Letting the locals name you isn't a bad idea, at least they'll get it right, and it could be nicely personalized. Then again, it could be a cruel joke too. But there's almost as big a chance that you could accidentally have that just through your own choice.

    A lot of Chinese in New Zealand take (often oddly old-fashioned, to my ears) English first names to save the rest of us from mangling theirs. I heard of one family who chose "Anthony" and "Tony" for their boys, having not been informed one was a nickname for the other.

    Of course, when the risk of the locals mangling your name to something inappropriate or weird is that high, I'd probably pick a local name too. But I do remain curious as to why those in my generation of international students went for names like "Victoria" and "Patricia", when those I've met in America, who are the same age, have gone for more generationally-appropriate ones like "Isabel". Different groups going to different countries, maybe?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Isabel's a pretty old name too, you know! I think the oddness of their choices is probably pretty random, that if you chose names randomly from a book of names, you'd stand a very good chance of landing a really old fashioned one - the new and hip names are the minority. The older ones have a clear etymology so they may appeal on account of seeming to mean something, although, of course to native speakers they're just names, we don't think of the meanings too much, more about the cultural and era implications. I'm sure that's not universal, though, that in other parts of the world the meaning of a name is much more important. So "Victoria" is victory, and "Patricia" is noble. Both are nice sentiments, possibly names that confer luck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    @Ben: nah, I didn't have any input into the original katakanaisation of my name - that happened before I ever set foot in Japan. I wouldn't have minded if there had been some creative (descriptive, meaningful) changes to create a "nice personalisation", but instead it was (and, had to be) merely a distortion of the sounds of a name that - you may have noticed - I'm not really much attached to in the first place.

    Hence, when (back on the VUW BBS many years ago) I actually had

    a chance to come up with a meaningful name [...] to present yourself [...] to other people

    ,
    I chose the username I still appear by here.
    If pronounced to rhyme with "singer", it is self-descriptive (I have been working in linguistics departments [cf VUW course code LING] for more than 20 years now);
    while, with the more usual pronunciation, it is rather neatly suited to use in online fora: simultaneously a reminder to myself to pause before posting a comment, and an invitation to others to hang out.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    @Lucy: not just in NZ - almost all of the Chinese students I have taught here in Japan take English names for class purposes. In the past few years, such names have included "Candice" (similar in sound to her full Chinese name); "Tina" (adapted from part of the sound of her Chinese name); "Grace" (a translation of part of her Chinese name); and "Terry" (which seems to be a name he saw once and liked).
    For these students, this rebranding seems at least in part a deliberate language learning strategy, part of "thinking in English".

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I've tried to do something vaguely along these lines here, when I last updated my passport I put down my occupation as 'Hero'.

    I had a McGillicuddy Serious Party friend who once managed to get her occupation in the electoral roll listed as Lion Tamer.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    For these students, this rebranding seems at least in part a deliberate language learning strategy, part of "thinking in English".

    I think so; the ones I have known are quite vehement about being called by their English names, even in the face of well-intentioned and even reasonably correctly pronounced attempts to use their "real" names. You have to respect people's right to re-invent themselves.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I've tried to do something vaguely along these lines here, when I last updated my passport I put down my occupation as 'Hero'.

    I had a McGillicuddy Serious Party friend who once managed to get her occupation in the electoral roll listed as Lion Tamer.

    I inadvertently managed to get myself listed on the electoral roll as 'Occupation: Intellectual' (I work with Intellectual Property. The local council clerks either got confused, or have an excellent sense of humour).

    My only worry is that when New Zealand's inevitable Year Zero comes to pass, I'll be first up against the wall of a re-education camp.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    I had a McGillicuddy Serious Party friend who once managed to get her occupation in the electoral roll listed as Lion Tamer.

    I miss those guys.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    some of them are in parliament now .... as party leaders ...

    I've been talking to people I've been working with in Taiwan recently - they explain the english name thing as basically they're given a list of english names with 'meanings' on the first day of english class and get to choose one.

    They also use these these names at work - not just when speaking english - I hear them using their english names mixed in with mandarin and english technical words.

    Mandarin names have meanings that may seem strange to us so just translating them doesn't really work

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

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