Samstag, 23. Juni 2007

How Luo2 You1 (羅優) was born ...

... or the image of Germans abroad.



What are those gentlemen doing in the bath tub? -Click here-

Maybe some people have the idea Luo2 You1 is a strange pseudonym. But, actually it´s a real name - a real Chinese name, just written in the phonetic transcription of Han Yu Pinyin.

Luo2 You1 written with traditonal Chinese characters

In the 94. year of the Chinese Republic, at the 6th day of the 5th month, Luo2 You1 was born. The place of his birth was the Yanchao Township Household Registration Office. The office is situated in No.585-1, Jhongmin Rd., Yanchao Township, Kaohsiung County 824, Taiwan.

How could this happen? Somewhere in Canada several years ago a Taiwanese girl met a German guy. They fell in love and decided to share their future. The eternal promise was sealed by the wedding.

Although the government of the Republic of China avoids to restrict the freedom of its citizens – with all advantages and partly also disadvantages – at least it´s necessary to register the marriage. In Taiwan a marriage is almost a full private case, an agreement between two families shown to the public. By contrast the German government still acts in the role of an old lord of the manor, who could decide who marries to whom and always felt care for his bondslaves. The Medieval system existed til Napoleon blow out the Holy Roman Empire and all those German principalities. Still nowaday the effects of the pre-Napaleon era lasts.

In China the emperor was seemingly not very interested in the affairs of his subjects as long as they payed obidient their taxes. At least he had to know the number of the inferiors and their formal relations. In the modern society of Taiwan the household registration offices fulfill this task for the rulers.

So marrying in Taiwan needs four basic steps: 1. asking for the blessing of deities in front of the ancestor´s shrine, 2. public notary at the District court (to get an official document with international recognition), 3. household registration office to indicate the event to the government, 4. public wedding party. Don´t ask me how many steps it needs in Germany to marry in Taiwan - or much worse - to marry a Taiwanese in Germany!

Step No. 3 was the less spectacular one: no guests, no special dress, no ceremony. However, a new person was born: Luo2 You1.

Place of the Household Registration Office in the center of Yanchao.

If a Taiwanese marries, he or she has to change the ID card, because the name of the spouse is also imprinted. At this moment people with a Latin name are asked to get a Chinese one. One reason is the missing space on the Taiwanese ID-Card. Usually people in Taiwan have full names of 2 or 3 characters. My full western family name has 23 character. Although Taiwan likes to create an international environment and is quite open to foreign influences, there are some cultural limits. As well as Chinese have to romanize their names in the western countries, Westerners can also respect the Chinese culture.

The demand of the friendly clerk in the household registration office met an unprepared couple. My first proposal "Yu Lung Shan" refused harshly my wife. "Lung" means dragon, the sign of the zodiac in which I was born. "Lung Shan" can be also interpreted as a translation of my German family name. There is some association with "Zhong Shan", Dr. Sun Yat-Tsen, the founder of modern China, too. "Yu" is similar to the beginning of my German first name. Besides, "Lung Shan" is a famous temple in Taipei. This was the reason, why my wife disliked this name.


Which girl wants to marry a temple? Lung Shan Temple in Taipei, still unmarried in April, 2004

Very soon „Yu Lung Shan“ appeared as Ford Prefect in Douglas Adam´s „Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy“. So better to look for an alternative name.

Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent – Don´t be misleaded by the dominant life species in Taiwan, if you have to choose your name!

After some consideration my wife decided to name me „Luo2 You1“. Luo2 is actually a normal Chinese family name. In Taiwan and China nobody will think about it. Well, Germans are usually quite curious and will ask the meaning. In combination with other characters „Luo2“ means to be busy, looking for a reason, end a task ... „You1“ means excellent, outstanding and reflect the wish of my wife to get the husband :-) My wife had also the idea the sound of Luo You follows the frist sillabs of my family and my first name. Well, for me its only a prove that Asian and Western ears are different, at least my wife´s and mine.

But, there is also another meaning: Luo2 You1 sound almost like „Loriot“. This refers to the cartoonist and comedian Loriot who holds the mirror to his fellows Germans. Too often I tried to explain my wife West German humor in a kind of private integration class. Now came the revenge: Who cites and repeats countless times Loriot´s jokes and sketches, will finally become a „Loriot“ too.

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