What’s In A Name?

by Patrick Liew on September 13, 2014

In September 2014, I participated in an interesting forum with a group of educational leaders. They hailed from different parts of the world.

The topic of the forum was essentially about “What’s the story behind your name?”

Simple theme but it opened up a good door to understand each other.

More importantly, it helped us to appreciate how our name might have influenced us in more ways than we could possibly imagine.

Whether our name was given to us or chosen by ourselves, it played an important part in shaping and moulding our personality, behavior, and aspiration.

Please allow me to share with you the story behind my name. I shared about it with my group of friends at the forum.

My name to many people is Patrick Liew. Actually, my full name is Liew Siow Gian Patrick.

To help my Hokkien friends to remember my Chinese name, I tell them that when you turn my name the other way around, i.e., “Gian Siow,” it will tell you in Hokkien that I love to be crazy.

I’m better off than my brother. His name is “Siow Kee.” He has gone crazy – that’s what it sounds like in Hokkien. Lol!

“Liew” is my family name but please don’t ever call me Mr Liew.

Whenever my wife calls me “Mr Liew!”, it means I’m in big trouble. Ha!

Therefore, if you call me Mr Liew, it may trigger fear throughout my being. I may just shudder right in front of you. Ha!

“Siow” (绍) is a name to represent the generational difference between members of my tribe.

Actually, my middle Chinese name should be “Wan” (萬).

My grandmother and father decided to skip the “Wan” generation. They named my male siblings and me after the next generation which is “Siow”.

The reason is because my elder sibling passed away when he was a baby.

Out of superstition, my grandmother and father named us after the next generation.

It may sound interesting to many people that when I meet another male member of my tribe, just by knowing his middle Chinese name, I will know if he is my grand uncle, uncle, cousin, nephew, or grand nephew.

“Gian” (å›­) is my Chinese name. It means complete, balance, or wholesome.

The English word that best describes the meaning behind my name is integrity.

Perhaps because of my name, I’ve always held the essence of integrity as an absolute organising principle in my life.

Integrity is at the first and last part of everything that I do.

I strive to live by my words and will do what I say I will do.

To use a financial trading maxim, “My word is my bond”.

You can count on me to deliver according to our agreement.

The western name “Patrick” was given to me by my father.

He was in awe about the British Empire, arguably the greatest empire in history.

He adopted British names for his children, including names of different members of the British Royal Family in time past.

I did not fully appreciate the meaning of “Patrick” until I became a born again Christian on 1 March 1972.

Subsequently, I did some studies and found out that the root word of “Patrick” is patriarch. It also stands for nobility.

Now you know why I look so grand and have so much class. You may knee in front of me and kiss my ring. Ha!

I’m not sure how I can live my life with nobility. If there is a word that’s a close cousin to nobility, it should be honour.

To me, being honourable is to live at a higher plane than even fulfilling legal, moral, and ethical obligations.

It is to uphold a respectable image and reputation through one’s thoughts, words, and conduct.

In closing, I want to say I’m happy to be given my name. I’m also proud of the meaning and significance behind it.

I endeavour to live up to it throughout my life.

Question: What’s the story behind your name? How has it influenced your life?

Please share with me. Thank you.


Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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