Coffee Yao, Finger Chen, Doy Chiang, and colleagues

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Thorin Engeseth noticed that, at the end of the Taiwanese video game "Detention", there are some interesting adopted Western names among the people involved in the game's creation — especially Coffee, Finger, and Smiler:

Lord knows how or why they picked all of these particular names.  For the record, though, here are the original Chinese names:

zhìzuòrén 製作人 ("producer")
Yáo Shùntíng 姚舜庭 — "Coffee"?

zhìzuò qún 製作群 ("production group")
Wáng Guānghào 王光昊 — guāng 光 means "light" and hào 昊 means "vast" or "clear summer sky"
Wáng Hànyǔ 王瀚宇 — the given name sounds a bit like "Henry"
Jiāng Dōngyù 江東昱 — if you say "dōngyù" very fast, it might sound a bit like "Doy"
Chén Jìnghéng 陳敬恒 — hard to see a "finger" lurking in there anywhere
Yáng Shìwéi 楊適維 — "Vincent"?
Xú Jiāshēng 徐嘉陞 — "Smiler"?
Hé Pèijūn 何霈君 — only very remotely resembles "Pege"

yīnyuè 音樂 ("music")
Zhāng Wèifān 張衛帆 — simple romanization

Perhaps, if you pronounced these names in Taiwan Mandarin or in Taiwanese, some of them might work a bit better than in Putonghua (MSM).

Cf. "'Farcical names' " (4/3/15), which included mention of a female author in Hong Kong named "Cream".  That would go well with "Coffee" here.

[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng]


  1. Jamie said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 4:51 am

    Coffee and Smiler might be chosen to reflect the habits/character of the person.

    Back when I was an engineer, one of the Taiwanese application engineers I met specialised in signal processing and had chosen the name Fourier Cheng.

    And then there is the Japanese author, Banana Yoshimoto.

  2. ajay said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 4:55 am

    The South China Morning Post used to collect these names: I can remember "Marlboro Wong", "Perrier Chan" and the unbeatable "Nausea Yip".
    And a friend of a friend found himself teaching English in a remote part of China many years ago, and was asked by his students to recommend suitable Western names for them. Unfortunately he had a somewhat antisocial sense of humour and drew mainly on two sources: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and "Top Gun".
    So if you run across a middle-aged Chinese guy calling himself something like "Viper Wu" or "Maverick Ho" or "Dopey Xi" or "Ice Man Chen", that's why.

  3. Brett said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 9:05 am

    It's very common in Japanese video game credits for the programmers (and others) to have jokey English nicknames.

  4. The suffocated said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

    Silly or not, "Coffee" — as a nickname — isn't new. I met a guy called Coffee at least twenty years ago.

  5. Stephen Hart said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

    As represented in movies, at least, nicknames not all that different in tone were popular in the 40s in the US.
    Hoagy Carmichael plays characters named Smoke and (more famously) Cricket. And most military movies had characters with variously serious or silly nicknames.

  6. bfwebster said,

    January 18, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

    My freshman year of high school (50 years ago this fall!), our German 1 teacher, Frau Kohl, wanted us to all choose 'German' names to use in class and gave us a few minutes to do so. I was stumped a bit, since (AFAIK) there was no German equivalent of 'Bruce'. However, my good friend Graham Volker, who was sitting behind me, leaned forward and suggested, "Fritzworth von Webster the 3rd!" Frau Kohl — a middle-aged German who had survived WW2 and escaped from East German after the war — looked at me funny but let me use it. It ended up being my principal nickname through high school, and I still use it as a screen name for some web sites to this day.

  7. Sally said,

    January 19, 2017 @ 12:02 am

    A friend of mine once came across a girl who called herself "Teletubbie" on Tinder. This was in Hong Kong. He swiped left, by the way.

  8. Terry Hunt said,

    January 19, 2017 @ 7:22 am

    "Fingers" used also to be a traditional Western nickname, but with a somewhat different connotation (presumably) to the "Finger" in this instance.

  9. Janus said,

    January 24, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

    This phenomenon of Chinese people choosing ‘English names’ that would not be considered very namy in normal English is nothing new. At a guess, I’d say it’s probably becoming less common as the average English skills of Chinese people improve.

    I’ve personally known or come across one guy who called himself Answer, another who seeming thought Virus was a great name, a girl who would respond to Cake—and at least two hundred girls named Apple, Strawberry or some equally silly fruit. Don’t think I’ve ever met a Kumquat, though.

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