It is easy to understand why Taiwanese students play the part of the name assigned to them in English class, but why do so many of them continue to use this name long after their school years? A survey of young Taiwanese adults, with follow-up interviews, investigated how and why they acquire and use an English name. The results mirror previously reported tendencies and suggest some new insights into the motivation and functionality of this practice. The data show that self-identification with their Western name offers pragmatic social and cultural advantages, including international identity, escape from rigid cultural formalities impeding social advances, establishing friendliness without getting too close, as well as self-expression. As concerns the often discussed nature of English names, the results indicate that the selection of an English name is influenced by Chinese name selection practice, the tendency to make the name unique or somehow related to the Chinese name, and especially by its intended role. As in previous studies, we found some unusual names, but these were used mainly as a nickname in communication with peers.
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