Vol. 47 No. 1 (1999)
Research Article

“They Call Me Bruce, But They Won't Call Me Bruce Jones:” Asian American Naming Preferences and Patterns

Published 1999-03-01



The names of Asian Americans are indicative of their individual and collective experiences in the United States. Asian immigrants and their descendants have created, modified, and maintained their names by individual choice and by responding to pressures from the dominant Anglo-American society.

American society's emphasis on conformity has been a major theme in the history of Asian American naming conventions (as it has been for other groups), but racial differences and historical circumstances have forced Asian Americans to develop more fluid and more complex naming strategies as alternatives to simply adopting Anglo names, a common practice among European immigrants, thus challenging the paradigms of European-American assimilation and naming practices.


  1. “America’s Immigrant Challenge.” 1993. Time. Special Issue, Fall, 5.
  2. Ali, Fozia. 1996. Personal Interview. 23 February.
  3. Ali, Hassan Syed. 1996. Personal Interview. 23 February.
  4. Bang, Thao Thi Phuong. 1995. Personal Interview. 29 November.
  5. Barrett, Laurence I. 1993. “What’s in a Name?” Time, Special Issue, Fall, 79.
  6. Chan, Melissa. 1994. “June, Revealed.” Transpacific: April, 12.
  7. Chen, Derrick. 1996. “Whatever Happened to Wang Laboratories?” A. Magazine: December/January, 72.
  8. Chino, Hazuki Carol. 1996. Personal Interview. 22 February.
  9. Choi, Kyung Soo. 1982. “The Assimilation of Korean Immigrants in the St. Louis Area.” Ph.D. dissertation, St. Louis University.
  10. Chow, Ming. 1996. Personal Interview. 18 May.
  11. Engley, Hollis L. 1995. ’’Tradition, Life and The Land.” Gannett News Service. 17 April.
  12. Ellis, Arthur A. 1980. The Assimilation and Acculturation of Indochinese Children into American Culture. Los Angeles: State of California Department of Social Services.
  13. Fong, Amy. 1996. Personal Interview. 27 February.
  14. Fujita, Megumi Kei. 1996. Personal Interview. 23 February.
  15. Fujino, Diane C. 1997. “Revolutions from the Heart: The Making of an Asian American Woman Activist,Yuri Kochiyama.” Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire. Ed. Sonia Shah. Boston: South End P, 169–181.
  16. Gatildo, Arnold. 1995. Fall. “Who? What? Where? & Ming-Na Wen!” Yolk 2: 37.
  17. Gordon, Milton M. 1964. Assimilation in American Life. New York: Oxford UP.
  18. Hall, Kim Lee. 1996. Personal Interview. 8 February.
  19. Heise, Kenan. 1995. “Dung Ho Moy, 105; Among First Immigrant Families in Chinatown.” Chicago Tribune 13 October. Sec. 3, 11.
  20. Hoang, Tuan A. 1995. Personal Interview. 29 November.
  21. Hook, J.N. 1982. Family Names: How our Surnames Came to America. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
  22. Hsu, Christine. 1995. Personal Interview. 29 November.
  23. Hurh, Won Moo, Hei Chu Kim and Kwange Chung Kim. 1979. Assimilation Patterns of Immigration in the United States: A Study of Korean Immigrants in the Chicago Area. Washington, D.C.: UP of America.
  24. Husain, Zulfikar Ali. 1996. Personal Interview. 7 March.
  25. Ichioka, Yuji. 1988. The Issei: The World of the First Generation Japanese Immigrants 1885–1924. New York: The Free Press.
  26. Jen, Gish. 1991. Typical American. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence.
  27. Jun, Hee. 1996. Personal Interview. 8 February.
  28. Kang, Tai S. 1971. “Name Change and Acculturation: Chinese Students on an American Campus.” Pacific SociogicalReview 14: 403–412.
  29. Kao, Malcolm Uyematsu. 1998. Personal Interview. 8 August.
  30. Kim, Anne. 1990. “For the Last Time, Darn It, I Am Not a Mail-Order Bride.” Los Angeles Times. 21 October: M4,M8.
  31. Kim, Christina. 1996. Personal Interview. 7 March.
  32. Kim, Elaine H. 1982. Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context. Philadelphia: Temple UP.
  33. Kim, Oliver. 1996. Personal Interview. 1 January.
  34. Kong, Chamroeun. 1996. Personal Interview. 22 February.
  35. Lee, Joann Faung Jean. 1991. Asian American Experiences in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company,Inc.
  36. Lichti, Tara Cho. 1996. Personal Interview. 6 March.
  37. Lim, Christina M. and Sheldon H. 1993. “In the Shadow of the Tiger: The 407th Air Service Squadron, Fourteenth Air Force, CBI,World War II.” Chinese America: History and Perspectives: 72–75.
  38. Liu, Jeff. 1998. “Back in School.” Rafu Shimpo 15 May 1993: 1.
  39. Lord, Bette Bao. 1984. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. New York: Harper Trophy.
  40. Louie, Emma Woo. 1985–86. “A New Perspective on Surnames Among Chinese Americans.” Amerasia 12:1–22.
  41. Louie, Emma Woo. 1991. “Surnames as Clues to Family History.” Chinese America: History and Perspectives. 101–108.
  42. Ma, Steve. 1996. Personal Interview. 22 February.
  43. Malcolm’s Mom. 1989. “My Son Malcolm.” Amerasia 15: 110–113.
  44. Monaghan, Peter. 1995. “A Korean-American Novelist’s Impressive Debut.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 1 April: A6.
  45. Mundy, Katherine Ann. 1996. Personal Interview. 26 February.
  46. Nam, Un Hui Faith. 1996. Personal Interview. 21 February.
  47. Nam, Yoon Kasie. 1996. Personal Interview. 7 March.
  48. Niiya, Brian, ed. 1993. Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present. New York: Facts on File.
  49. Nishihira, Misako “Elsie” Kiyabu. 1995. Interview by Shana Nishihira. 26 March. San Diego, California.
  50. Nishihira, Shana. 1996. Personal Interview. 14 March.
  51. Nguyen, Kim Thuc. 1995. Personal Interview. 29 November.
  52. Nguyen, Ngan. 1994. “What’s In a Name? Ethnic Identity.” Asian Week 15 July, 2.
  53. Nozaki, Yvette Masako. 1996. Personal Interview. 23 February.
  54. Okihiro, Gary. 1993. “The Japanese in America.” In Niiya, ed., 1–23.
  55. Omatsu, Glenn. 1994. “The ‘Four Prisons’ and the Movements of Liberation: Asian American Activism from the 1960s to the 1990s.” The State of Asian America: Activism and Resistance in the 1990s. Ed. Karin Aguilar-San Juan. Boston: South End Press, 19–70.
  56. Park, Joon. 1996. Personal Interview. 14 February.
  57. See, Lisa. 1995. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of a Chinese American Family. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  58. Seller, Maxine. 1977. To Seek America: A History of Ethnic Life in the United States. Englewood, New Jersey: J.S. Ozer.
  59. Spickard, Paul R. 1989. Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America. Madison: U of Wisconsin P.
  60. Stewart, George. 1979. American Given Names. New York: Oxford UP.
  61. Takaki, Ronald. 1989. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. New York: Penguin Books.
  62. Tamura, Eileen H. 1994. AmericanizationiAcculturation, and Ethnic Identity: The Nisei Generation in Hawaii. Urbana: U of Illinois P.
  63. Tang, Iris. 1996. Personal Interview. 15 May.
  64. United States Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census. September 1993. We the American... Asians. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census.
  65. Wagner, Michael. 1994. “What’s in a Name?” Gannett News Service. 18 April.Wong, Alice. 1996. Personal Interview. 1 January.
  66. Wu, Anita. 1996. Personal Interview. 27 December.
  67. Wu, Yung-hsing. 1996. Personal Interview. 22 February.
  68. Yasunaga, Jun. 1995. Personal Interview. 29 April.