My parents, Karl and Grada Alexander, named me David when I was baptized. With the exception of shortening that to “Dave” when I was 12, and getting called variations on “Alexander” when that was the name on my shirt in the Army, it seemed to be all the name I would ever need. With slight variation in pronunciation, both names worked in Spanish, too.
Then I went to Taiwan. First I was given a name in Mandarin Chinese, Ya Ta-wei. Since my original trip there was to be only for a year, and then left behind, the Mandarin name would be disposable, so it was based on my name in English, sort of. But I stayed longer. And eventually Mandarin Chinese got eclipsed by Taiwanese, so, even though I didn’t change names, the pronunciation was radically modified. I became A Tai-ui.
More changes were in store. Though I had initially resisted it, I eventually realized that I had a call to the ordained clergy, so I acquired a title: “pastor” (pronounced bok-su in Taiwanese). A job reassignment solidified the switch. Everyone in Taiwan who met me after the year 2000 came to know me as A Bok-su. I eventually landed a position at a theological college, where some who had been my students for 3 years never even knew my English name. the transition was wonderful.
The name of this blog eliminates the spaces and hyphen in my Taiwanese moniker. I no longer reside in Taiwan, but part of me is still Aboksu, and that’s who is writing the things you’ll find here.