Yang "Sophie" Shen
Please call me "Sophie" (蘇菲)! If we communicate in Mandarin, feel free to address me with my full Chinese name "沈阳"!
I very much respect Western civilization and traditional Chinese culture, I love the beautiful characters of Chinese language. “Yang” is a varied written form of the pronunciation of my Chinese name “阳” - yáng - with the tone removed. In Chinese language, each character has unique connotations. A pronunciation is usually shared by different characters and has no connotations. Therefore, the connotation of my name “sun, sunshine, positive” is lost in "Yang". "Yang" became my default English name on passport in 2012. Though it's pronounceable by English speakers and the English pronunciation is very nice, it's hard for non-Chinese to pronounce correctly. For Chinese, it is confusing as one cannot know which character it represents, because Chinese only communicates via characters. In 2014, I felt "Yang" can't connect to my authentic self - without the connotation of "阳", considering the very different written form and occasions being used, it's almost a new name. When someone calls a Chinese by the first name, it means he/she is very close to this person. It is usually parents, friends, classmates, or teacher in elementary school. In the states, first name is called by everyone - though I love the sense of openness, I felt confused being addressed as "Yang" all the time. If it felt like a new name, why not spending time to choose one?
“Sophie” was chosen under careful considerations, many aspects are special. It shares the initial of the pronunciation of my family name "沈", when using it I feel it connects to my family. Many celebrities named "Sophie" are independent, strong and confident to be themselves - an expectation I have for myself. The meaning - “wisdom” - will remind me to never stop pursuing wisdom and truth. I’m also attracted to the long history and simple pronunciation of the name. Magically, the Chinese version - “蘇菲” - are two of my favorite characters; it is a perfect courtesy name (字).
Thank you for reading :)