What’s in a name?

Anyong, my friends. Lindsay here.

Sorry we’ve been slow to blog but it’s been a busy week here in Korea! School is in full-swing and we have been going going going like the Energizer Bunny.

We’ve started a new class at school. This time, our co-teachers are our students. Each day, Whit and I each teach them during our free periods. We don’t mind the extra work. In fact, there is no actual “work” involved. It’s just a discussion. In fact, we have made new friends.

You see, this forces them to speak English to us. And in just four days, we have learned about their families, the history behind their names (each and every name in Korea has it’s own special meaning) and the pets they have had (including the cute little chicks they ended up eating!!!)

We have laughed. Wow. We have laughed. We have all learned something new. Like how women usually don’t pick the child’s name in Korea. If it’s a boy, the honor falls to the grandparents (on the man’s side). If it’s a girl, it’s not as important, and it falls to the parents (father).

One of our co-teachers is about 95 percent sure her father named her after his first love.

Another one of our co-teachers recently learned from a fortune teller that her name is bad luck. Therefore, she has changed it. To what the fortune teller said would bring her better luck and more wealth, both of which she says she could use.

Names are taken very seriously in the Far East. Your name is your destiny. Originally Chinese, these names ( two Chinese characters put together for hyphenated names like Young-mi, Ju-Oak and Mi-Sook) mean things such as beauty, wealth and a long life.

Koreans often use “name-makers,” people who sit in tarp-covered colorful stalls, to name their children and grandchildren. These name-makers are much like fortune tellers and will always know the best names, according to my co-teachers.

Korean women do not change their family names when they are married. Their children take their father’s name. And they have books that trace their families back for thousands of years.

They were curious to know my full name: Lindsay McCall Nash Altizer. They can barely say my first name. They’ve been calling Lindsay Lohan “Winjee” for years. (A student has started calling me “Gas Rangee” this week because it sounds so “similar” to my name..so they tell me.) Needless to say they were a bit shocked to learn I share the same name with the actress.

They also found it completely charming that Mom and Dad named me after two street signs next to the church they went to when Mom was pregnant with me. “Ooooh. That is soooo romantic,” they said. I have to say I’ve never gotten that response before.


  1. Brittany says:

    That is very interesting! I wonder what they would think about the happy olive tree…the meaning of Ada’s name. oh and Whit looks like quit the ladies man in the picture.


  2. Summer says:

    Occasionally people ask me if I got my name because my parents were hippies (they weren’t). It’s actually a much better story than that… I’m going to ask my Korean friends today in class how they got their names and what they mean. Thanks, as always, for the insight.


  3. deborah says:

    I see it doesn’t matter what continent your in, Whit is still the “babe magnet”.


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