m a r k a n d e y a

Nicknames

Posted by Brian on June 6, 2007

I have a student whose Korean name is “Kwan.” Those who know some Korean might recognize that his name also doubles as the Korean word for “coffin.” So, during introductions the other night, he told us his nickname was “Coffin.” Stunned by the sheer tackiness of such a nickname (what’s next, students named Embalming Fluid, Autopsy, and Mortician?) I told him that that was a terrible nickname and refused to use it in class. We are, after all, adults in a classroom, not kids on romper room.

For teachers out there, how do you deal with goofy nicknames? Are you willing to call a student Captain Rub-a-dub if that’s what he claims his nickname is? I’ve had to suffer through a whole host of dumb nicknames, such as Orange, Zipperman, Bigfoot, and now Coffin. I refuse to say, “How was your weekend, Coffin?” to another person.

Another reason I dislike nicknames, even more legitimate ones, is because some students don’t invest a lot of value in them. I  remember a few years ago I had a student who I liked quite a bit who had some regular English nickname. After her month with me was up, I was curious about how her follow-up class was so I asked her new teacher about this student. “Who?” the eacher asked. I gave her name and described her again. “Oh, her.” Apparently, she takes a new English nickname with every teacher, making the time I invested in learning her “name” a total waste. It was meaningless to her.

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One Response to “Nicknames”

  1. scott said

    I know a guy whose Korean name is 영걸, and chooses to write it as ‘Young Girl’ in English. He thinks it is funny and will help foreigners say his name somewhat accurately. I suggested ‘Young Gull’ (as in seagull), but he didn’t think it was as cute as Young Girl.

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