How does "Teacher Sun" Emerge?
Fact: I was called "Teacher Sun" as a nickname, for a very complicated reason.
TL; DR: Shi Hao-Yue → Shi Hao → Shi Hou → Sun Wukong → Liu Xiao Ling Tong (Zhang Jin-Lai) → Teacher Sun.
- Note: in and only in this page, I let surnames (if there is one, as no surname in Liu Xiao Ling Tong) go first, as all Chinese people do. This might help you understand the content.
- In China, people (almost) never call their teachers by given names -- no matter whether the "teacher" is a professor at University (who teaches us how the world works), or a kindergartener (who also teaches us how the world works). Instead, people call the "teacher" by Teacher + surname. Here, we may view Teacher as a title, just like Professor.
- Teacher therefore becomes a word to show respect to another person -- no matter whether he or she could really teach you some knowledge. (Well, sharing experience could also make someone a Teacher.) As an example, Chinese actors and actresses often call those more senior than themselves "Teacher".
- As stated above, the famous actor Liu Xiao Ling Tong (aka, Zhang Jinlai) was entitled with Teacher, for his excellent act as the role of Sun Wukong (a great monkey king in Chinese folk tales). Almost all Chinese know "that man was Sun Wukong", but much fewer people know his name is Zhang Jinlai. Once, someone intended to call Jinlai "Teacher", but the guy could not remind himself of Jinlai's surname! Therefore, Jinlai was called Teacher Sun (haha; actually the guy should call Jinlai by Teacher Zhang).
- I have to say more about Sun Wukong. In Chinese folk tales, he was born from stone (without parents, I think). Therefore, he was also called Shi Hou (which means Stone Monkey). Moreover, the surname Sun in Chinese is not relative to the sun (in the sky) at all. The corresponding Chinese character of Sun literally means grandchild, however, it doesn't have any meaning while acting as surname, does it?
- You might have seen some cue! My surname is just Shi, which has exactly the meaning of "stone" if it wasn't a surname.
- You might also know, my given name in Chinese, Haoyue, is actually composed by two Chinese characters: Hao and Yue. Let's look at Hao.
Cantonese pronunciation of Hao (the character in my name) is like Hou.
- Recall that surname goes first in Chinese, my name is Shi Hao-Yue (in which the hyphen links two characters in the given name; okay this is an incorrect name format according to relative provision in PRC, and I even have no idea on why there is such a stupid provision), rather than Haoyue Shi.
- There we go! If we just ignore Yue in my name, and with the help of Cantonese, the pronounciation of first two characters becomes Shi (pronouced in Mandarin) Hou (pronounced in Cantonese), aka, Sun Wukong.
- The logic (okay, imagination) chain is:
Shi Hao-Yue → Shi Hao → Shi Hou → Sun Wukong → Liu Xiao Ling Tong, aka, Zhang Jinlai (I should have written his name as Zhang Jin-Lai) → Teacher Sun.
- Many thanks to Zhang Yuemei (Facebook) who did such a brainstorm! She really made my day.
Also, thanks to Jiang Wantong (Stanford University), Li Qian (Stanford University), Tian Jingye (University of Southern California), Wei Fangyin (Princeton University), Wu Xian (Peking University), Wu Yingxi (Google) and Yu Xiaofan (University of California, San Diego) who are (some of) my best friends during undergraduate study and always use it (and thus even cause a cocktail party effect to me)!