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Written in Summer 2003 for English 1A

When the doctor delivered the baby from the newly appointed mother, he looked at the baby’s face, a face bathed in tears. “You will grow up strong and sturdy, my beloved,” the doctor blessed the child; then he turned to the mother, “Your child looks good. He will be a beloved child.” The mother was relaxed. She had been worrying for ten months: will my child be healthy? Will my child study well? Will my child be docile? She wanted to give everything to her child. She hoped her child would be the happiest kid in the world. At the moment she saw her child, the mother had an strange feeling, for the first time in her life: the baby had accompanied her for ten months; he had been a part of her body, and now he was an individual. How miraculous was life! Though he was lovely and tender, the baby had the power to strike a deep chord in his mother’s heart. His crying was the music from heaven that could pacify his mother… these were the scenes when I was born in Hong Kong nineteen years ago. My parents gave me the name “David” which, in Hebrew, means “the beloved one.” I was also given a Chinese name “Tai Wai.” Based on Hong Kong’s colonial climate, the Chinese traditional meaning and the Biblical story of King David, the name “David (Tai Wai)” was then written on my birth certificate and it has been following me for almost two decades.

Prior to July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was a British dependent territory; but almost ninety percent of its populace was Chinese; my name was given as a result of the mixed culture in the colony. The British, who wished to expand their trading opportunities along China’s coast, became interested in Hong Kong in the early 19th century. The British control of Hong Kong began in 1842, when China was forced to cede Hong Kong to Great Britain after the First Opium War. English then became Hong Kong’s official language. As Hong Kong is located in the coastal region of China, it has an advantage in global transportation; due to Hong Kong’s geographical location, people from many places could easily immigrate to Hong Kong through the convenient ship route. Different races of people incessantly went to Hong Kong before World War II (1939-1945). Therefore, high racial diversity constitutes a city with various cultures. Beginning in the 60s, people in Hong Kong would take an English name even though they were Chinese and their native language was Chinese language. In the years between the 60s and 70s, the average education level of people in Hong Kong was still low. Those parents with relatively higher education would often consider giving their child an English name as to flaunt their knowledge. The trend of having an English name gradually spread to every rank of the society. My parents were also influenced by this inimitable culture: besides thinking of a Chinese name, they considered giving me an English name. They knew that the name “David” had the meaning of “the beloved”; its diminutive “Dave” profoundly shows how parents cosset their child. Therefore, instead of just having a Chinese name, my parents also named their beloved son David. Every time my parents call my name, a warm and affectionate sentiment will be aroused; it solidifies the bond between my parents and I.

In direct syllabic translation, “David” is enunciated as “Tai Wai” (and it is written as 大為) in the Chinese language; it implies the meaning of “big achievement,” “to do something worthwhile,” or “to accomplish a lot.” In the English-speaking Western countries, names are chosen not because of their meaning, but because of heritage or appeal. It is common for the first-born son to carry the name of his father. People who are named in honor of their parents’ my friends or teachers seem to be a living monument. On the other hand, in the Chinese traditional culture, names are usually given to children based on their meaning and signification. For example, “Chi Wai” implies wisdom or intelligence, “Yan Kit” denotes “one with benevolence and excellence,” “Suk Yi” connotes “a virtuous and charismatic lady.” There are thousands upon thousands of possible names in the Chinese language; if one is imaginative enough to create a distinctive name, a tremendous meaning can be produced. I have a friend called “Oi Fung.” “Oi” means “a kind-hearted person” while “Fung” is “a maple.” Her parents told her that she was named “Fung” because there were several maples in the garden outside the delivery room where she was born. Meaning and denotation are the principal factors for choosing Chinese names. My parents have always hoped that I would become outstanding among others; they yearn to see my success in the future. “Tai Wai” is exactly the status they wish me to achieve; it symbolizes my parents’ hope about my career. While “David” is their beloved son, “Tai Wai” is their child whom they are proud of. Both of the two names “Tai Wai” and “David” contribute the denotations that my parents desire.

According to the two books of Samuel in the Old Testament, David was the second King of Israel. As my parents are Catholics, they hoped I would be a successful person, and so they chose the name “David,” after the great Israelite King. King David was the man whom God made great, and was the composer of many beautiful songs for Israel. When King David was a teenager, he was valiant enough to kill the brawny giant Goliath with a stone. He was not afraid of carrying out his duty to defend his country. David took over King Saul’s sovereignty and ruled Israel in the 10th century BC. He made the country flourish and strong enough to overcome any invasion of foreign countries. King David’s story plays a significant part in the Bible; his presence connects the Old Testament and the New Testament as Jesus was supposedly descended from him. Being loyal Catholics, my parents thought that the name “David” was a blessed one, a name that would bring me good luck. “David” provides me many advantages, for example, when I was in Grade 7, the teacher of Religious Studies asked me to play the role of King David while my classmates had to kneel down and worship me; I thought how superior was my name! “David” also impresses people, for it is easy to pronounce and remember. Although the name will not provide any real benefits, it reminds me of the hopes of my parents. Every time I write my name on test paper, I tell myself that I cannot disappoint my parents. “David” is my best companion; it provides the energy and force for me to move towards a bright future.

My name is not simply used to identify me from another, but also to hold a sense of wish, luck and passion. I feel connected with famous persons like the nimble empiricist philosopher David Hume, the world-class soccer player David Beckham, the captivating magician David Copperfield, and many eminent persons whose name is David. There is a Chinese idiom: “One does not mind to have a bad fate; the most miserable thing is having a bad name.” My name conveys deep denotations; it guides me to the triumph. I appreciate my parents’ thoughtful decision, despite the little embarrassment of often sharing the same name with classmates…

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3 Responses
  1. pherum says:

    woow, great 😉 , what a lovely name is

  2. Philip Owens says:

    David,

    What a great story your parents must be very proud of you with all you have done so far in your life..I was reaching out to you to see if you would be open to look at an opportunity with PocketGems but now I would like to be your friend as well. Any person that has that much respect for his parents has to be a good person.. You take care and I wish you all the best in life.

    Philip

  3. david tong says:

    David,

    We shared not only the first name but the last name as well….
    Is your last name in Chinese written as “sugar” or “soap”?

    I like how you brought in so many elements in association with name, especially on the trend of how HK’ees adopted English name in the 60’s. Like you I was born in HK and took some classes at CCSF, so I feel there is a special connection here.

    Enjoyed your essay!

    David Tong

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