Publication Date

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Rosemary Henze


English names, identity, naming practices, onomastics, Taiwanese American students, Taiwanese international students

Subject Areas

Sociolinguistics; Asian American studies; Social sciences education


In this study, I analyze how Chinese and English naming practices influence name adoption and explicate how the use and choice of names by Taiwanese international students and Taiwanese American students at San José State University, California, are structured through social interaction and cultural context. The data were collected from in-depth interviews with 10 Taiwanese international students and 10 Taiwanese American students. The interviews focused on how they construct their identities and produce social relations with others through their choice and use of ethnic and/or English names.

The study findings help to illuminate areas that until now have not received much scholarly attention. Certain traditional practices, such as generation names, are used by both Taiwanese parents and first generation Taiwanese parents to solidify the kindred relationships among siblings and collateral relatives, thus showing continuity even when parents have immigrated to the United States. Furthermore, the use of ethnic and English names by Taiwanese international students, which appeared at first to be governed by personal choice, is often constrained by linguistic and social factors. Their use of English names begins in Taiwan and then continues in the United States, not only helping them to transform themselves from outsiders to insiders, but also greatly influencing their acculturation.