Dave Cragin writes:
I have a brother-in-law who is originally from Hong Kong and his last name is Yuen. I learned from John McWhorter’s superb series on linguistics that this Chinese name is of Turkic origin. I asked my brother-in-law about this and he said “Yes, family lore is that we originally came from North-West China” (i.e., where Turkic people had settled.)
According to Wikipedia, the Mandarin equivalent of Yuen is Ruan (阮) and the Vietnamese is Nguyễn. Wikipedia further notes an estimated 40% of Vietnamese share this name.
I wonder if readers have information that contradicts the above – or is it correct? (I’d like to know that our family story is accurate). Is there a Turkish/Turkic equivalent of Yuen or did it remain Yuen?
Also, are there any other common last names that cover such a wide geographic, linguistic, and cultural span, particularly from such ancient times? (obviously, in modern times, people move everywhere).
Read the rest of this entry »