My Generational name is Duen

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The Yen family uses a naming system, so that everyone in my family born within the same generation has the word "Duen" in their name. So my siblings and all my first cousins also have the word "Duen" in their names. Now, everyone who knows me, calls me by my first name "Duen." The reason is because, this is what is said on my birth certificate, and because I was not given an American name. Indeed, everyone in my immediate family, except for me, has an American name, including my parents! My mother's name is Louise, my father's is Ernest, my brother is Lenard, and my two sisters are Jeannette and Roxanne.

However, a funny thing happened when I finally met my first cousins in China in 1984. They all had the name "Duen" also! So to differentiate, and this is the normal practice, is to be called by a hypenated name. For me, it is "Duen-Hsi", for my brother, it is "Duen-Lieh," and for my two sisters, it is "Duen-Jing" and "Duen-Shieh." For my first cousins, they are "Duen-etc." and I can't remember them all, since I have only met them once.

The naming system used by our family is more complex, because the generational name goes through a cycle that repeats itself every four generations. So by the generational name, anyone in our family can determine what generation they are a part of. So, for example, my generation is "Duen," my father's generation is "En," and my children's generation will all have the name of "I" pronounced like the letter "e."

Last updated 10 August 1995

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