Last Name, First

In western culture my name is Hsu Ken Ooi. The individual name followed by the family. In eastern culture my name is Ooi, Hsu Ken. The family name followed by the individual. To take it further, the “Hsu” part of my name that I share with my brother Hsu Han signifies our generation. A concept that doesn’t exist in western culture. Examining my name in eastern culture again, the order is family, generation then individual.

The difference in ordering isn’t surprising, western cultures have traditionally celebrated the individual while eastern cultures focused on the group especially the family. I think what’s interesting is what something as subtle and seemingly arbitrary as the ordering of your name can tell you about the values of each culture.