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Acceptance comes for obscure characters

Recognize any?

The second-generation national ID card switchover has caused trouble for many people whose names contain obscure characters that are unsupported by the PSB's database. In March of this year, the PSB released a list of 231 characters that were not available in the computer system issuing the IDs; they've been working on a solution, however, and this week announced that 32 of those characters had been incorporated into the software (click the image at left for an enlarged chart).

The Mirror talked to a man named Xin Ge (辛哿), whose given name is one of the characters the system is now able to handle.

Xin Ge said, "All growing up, teachers and classmates were basically unable to read my name the first time they saw it. They'd usually read it as 'He' or 'Qi'. I felt really cool having this name."

Xin's grandmother said, "Choosing the name, I carried a Great Dictionary of Chinese Characters around all day, flipping and flipping through it. After repeated comparisons, I decided this character was the most satisfactory. The dictionary had two definitions for this character, "satisfactory" (可) and "fine" (嘉). And the makeup of the character - the top is 加 and the bottom is 可 - is quite interesting, so the kid's nickname was Kejia - in one stroke we had a name and a nickname."

A short survey done by the paper revealed that the majority of people don't recognize any of these characters; the chart itself has four characters for which the editors were unable to find any information. On this point, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Jilin University identified four potential reasons: (1) The character was recorded incorrectly in official documentation; (2) The character is found only in obscure ancient texts; (3) The individual has written his own name incorrectly; or (4) The character is a new creation.

While we've come a long way since the days of writing 吉吉 for and 方方土 for , there are still 199 more characters out there waiting for entry into the system.

The PSB recommends that people not choose names that are too rare to avoid hassles when dealing with computer systems that may not implement extended character sets. It also noted that the government is currently mulling over measures to restrict the use of rare or innovative characters in names.

A limitation on individual creative expression? Possibly, although people seem to be doing that fairly well on their own: is far too popular a choice for a first name. Data from Beijing's ID computers reveal that there are 5013 people in the city named Zhang Wei, and rounding out the the top five names are Wang Wei, Liu Yang, Wang Lei, and Li Wei.

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There are currently 2 Comments for Acceptance comes for obscure characters.

Comments on Acceptance comes for obscure characters

哿 is pronounced ke3 in Wenlin. What is cool about having that as a name? Do you mean a nondescript person suddenly becomes exciting with this name, just like African-Americans like wierd names? That is SO low-class.

David, some people prefer to use more traditional names, it's their own taste. Names have meaning.

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