Chu Hsi
A story on how my name was chosen

As I have mentioned elsewhere, Hsi is the unique portion of my name. The Yen family has been using a naming system for more than 300 years. The family name cannot be changed, and Duen is the generation name. With respect to the unique portion of the name, it is not entirely unique, but the ideograph must contain the character for "fire." Because my father was the youngest in his family, and furthermore married late in life, by the time I was born, he said that most of the words in the dictionary were already taken by all my cousins. However, curiously, he found that one beautiful word "Hsi" was not taken, and it certainly was a wonderful name for a first born son. So he took it.

However, afterwards, he spoke with his step-brother, the only other member of his immediate family to leave China, and mentioned what a wonderful name he found for his son. His brother, being much older, more educated and knowing more of the family history, was surprised and told him that the reason why this word was not taken was because it was the name of a famous Neo-confucianist philosopher Chu Hsi, who lived around 1200AD! I imagine it is like naming your son Jesus Christ or something. Anyway, they laughed, and said no one in America will really know what my name means, until now, since I am telling you.

When asked what my name means, I usually say, "early light." The reason is because I tend to look way into the future, so I am the "early light." But, I also think the name is mysterious in that it can mean sunrise, noon or sunset. My father likes the definition of "bright" because he wants his son to be intelligent. Someone also recently told me that my name also means "aurora." As I will describe elsewhere, the ideograph for Hsi also contains the characters that mean "lucky" and "happiness."

Last updated 11 August 1995

Copyright © 1995 by Duen Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.

E-mail: yen@noogenesis.com

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