Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's in a name?

We've known for some time that we were going to call our daughter Rachel, but we have been stumped on a middle name. My last name is different from Lance's, so one of the leading contenders was "Rachel (my surname) (Lance's surname)."

But I was hoping to find a way to preserve her Chinese name, if possible -- after all, that's about the only thing she'll bring with her when she joins our family. We were waiting to see what her name was before making a final decision.

Meanwhile, I guess I'm a little superstitious, so I generally referred to her as "The Baby" rather than "Rachel" at first. But more than a year ago, Lance started referring to our future daughter as "Zing Zing." I tried to stop it because it sounded to me like we were making fun of Chinese names. I also was afraid that if "Zing" actually was a Chinese word, it might mean something awful! But Lance persisted, and I couldn't find any words like that in my Mandarin dictionaries, so before too long it became our shorthand. After all, "Zing Zing" had much more personality than "The Baby."

Last week, we were referred a beautiful baby girl named Ba Shu Ting. Ba is the surname given to all the children at Yueyang County Social Welfare Institute. Shu is her "generational" name, and Ting is her individual name. In a traditional Chinese family, all the daughters would have the same generational name -- in this case, it appears that the orphanage used Shu as the generational name for all children who arrived there in 2006. It also is customary in China to double up on the individual name to get a child's nickname, so our daughter likely is already called "Ting Ting."

When Lance and I first looked at the name "Shu Ting," we pronounced it as many of you probably did: "Shoe Ting." We didn't really like the sound, and we almost talked ourselves out of using it, figuring the name had been assigned to her by an orphanage worker and so perhaps didn't have any special meeting. We decided we could use Ting Ting as a nickname even if it wasn't part of her formal name.

But we took the characters to some Mandarin speakers, and guess what? This character for "Shu," meaning "easygoing," is actually pronounced "Sue." The character for Ting means "tall and slender," and it signifies her later transition to womanhood. When Lance and I were talking about it, he reminded me how he asked a different Chinese friend months ago whether there was a Chinese name that sounded like "Zing Zing" -- only Lance spelled it "Tsing Tsing." The friend told him that the closest name to that in Chinese would be -- you guessed it -- Ting Ting. His friend's sister is named Ting Ting, and he said it is a beautiful name for a little girl because it signifies growing into a graceful woman. When a different coworker told Lance the meaning of "Ting" last week, he remembered what his other friend had told him months ago -- likely before our baby was even born.

I'm telling you all this so you will recognize the significance: We were referred a baby girl named "Shu," which sounds like it could be short for "Susan," and "Ting," which we were told months ago is the closest thing to what her daddy already called her.

And so, after much thought and research and marveling at the coincidences, we've decided to name our daughter Rachel Shu-Ting (with Lance's surname). We hope it makes her proud some day -- assuming she doesn't automatically despise it when she turns 12.


I apologize for not updating the last few days; I know you're all eager for news. However, I injured my eye over the weekend and couldn't spend much time at a computer screen until today. The good news is that the eye appears to be healing just fine, and I shouldn't have any long-term effects from the injury. And, no, I really don't want to explain again how it happened!


We're still waiting for an appointment to get Rachel's translated files and more recent photos. Meanwhile, I put Rachel's "finding ad" photo on this entry again because of its sheer beauty.

I'm also attaching a photo of a lovely gift we received from my friend Michelle in Washington in celebration of our referral. It's a T-shirt with a beautiful pro-adoption message in rhinestones.

I call it Ting Ting's Bling.


Michelle said...

What an incredibly thoughtful and beautiful name, I am sure Rachel will love it right away, if not someday!

URGHHHHH!!!!! That you still don't have your appointment yet...what is going on? If I am crazy about it I am sure there are no words to describe what you are feeling!

Waiting on pins and needles for some more pics,
Michelle I

Michelle said...

I love that Ting Ting has got her Bling Bling:) hee hee hee!!! I can't wait to hear all about her on Friday. YIPEEE Life is good!!!

It looks like we might be in Chicago for Christmas (I think I have Eric convinced that we need to go)!!!! I'll keep you posted!

Michelle S

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your beautiful daughter. You have to buy her Mulan the movie, both Mulan 1 and Mulan 2 - they're great movies, but in Mulan II, there are three princesses and one is named Ting-Ting. Adorable.

Good luck on your trip.