Sunday, May 29, 2005

What's In A Name

chinese character
Originally uploaded by Dennis&Terri.
These are the Chinese characters that were written on the back of the photographs of Eleanor we received last week. They represent her Chinese name, You Jiangnan (pronounced YO JUNG NAHN). You is her last name and comes from the name of her orphanage, YouXian. Jiangnan is her given name and we've been looking into what it means. The challenge, of course, is that Chinese is a very sophisticated, complicated and nuanced language. Tiny variations in tonal inflection can change the meaning of a word, we're told. Literal translations sometimes aren't always reliable because context is everything. So it's not as simple as looking something up in a translation guide (especially for those of us who struggle as it is with the ENGLISH language). We probably won't really be able to understand all that until we can talk to Eleanor's caregivers in China. But one valuable and very knowledgable resource we have on our adoption agency's members-only internet bulletin board has been very helpful. He says that Jiangnan literally means "south of the river." But he admits it's a strange name for a child unless it represents the area in which she was found. It may have both geographical and literary connotations. Jiangnan is a loosely defined region south of the Yangtze along China's eastern seaboard renowned for its scenic beauty and tropical climate. The area also is where mainstream Chinese culture is said to have originated; many of the historically important poets and painters are reputed to have derived their creativity by residing in or visiting the area. Our expert says a "possibility is that the child may be quite talented or creative. So the name Jiangnan in isolation would mean 'south of the river.' In context, the name would likely represent 'cultural prodigy.'" Obviously, we're hoping he's 100 percent correct ...


Blogger gwprice said...

I looks a lot like my signature on the Walmart credit machine.

12:23 PM  

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