“What’s your name?”
“What? Come on, tell me your real name.”
Although the story of how I acquired my English name seemed a bit forced, I have come to liking my name gradually, and today I am still called Ken. It’s simple, crisp, and easy to remember (or easy to forget).
A few of my American friends would insist on calling me by my Chinese name. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do prefer you to call me Ken. This is not out of convenience, or worry that you would butcher the Cantonese pronunciation. Many people from Hong Kong have both a Chinese and an English name, and it’s common to address each other by our English names. People call me by my Chinese name are either my parents, relatives, or those who don’t know me well. I also like having separate identities: me in US (Ken) vs. me in Hong Kong (???).
It took me a few years to realize Ken is short for Kenneth. One of my best friends’ name is Kenneth, and when I visited him in the UK one summer, people were just saying hi to me left and right. “Hi Ken!” “What’s up Ken?” How can I be so popular in a place I have never been to?
Once in a while, people would call me Kenneth, and it still takes me a second to respond. Professor Weinert always calls me Kenny. My friend Bernardo would call me Kenjamin. Just to mess with people, I have imagined introducing myself like James Bond: “The name is Ken. Kentucky Luk.”