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Johanna Neuman /LAT "speechless" about Asian name normalization to avoid confusion

Johanna Neuman of the Los Angeles Times offers "As Obama tackles immigration, Texas legislator suggests immigrants Americanize names" (link). The first part of it discusses the New York Times article about Obama pushing immigration "reform". I'll tell you something she didn't tell you about that. The second part concerns a suggestion that Asian-Americans normalize their names in order to avoid confusion when the government needs to identify them. Neuman's reaction to that shows that she's just an incurious hack.

Regarding reform, she includes the attached photo without pointing out that the "Legalize LA" signs are from American Apparel; one of their lawyers is/was the Mexican government-linked Peter Schey. The other sign also appeared at least in a Seattle protest (link) and is almost certainly from one DC activist group or other. And, it goes without saying that she doesn't discuss all the downsides of that "reform".

Regarding the second part, she says this:

But one Republican legislator in Texas has a unique spin on how to help immigrants, and even second- and third-generation Americans, assimilate. Republican Betty Brown said this week she thinks Americans of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent should change their names to make it easier for poll workers to identify them... No word on how [one of those testifying] responded. Perhaps, like us, he was speechless.

I left the following comment, which probably won't be approved but you never know:

It shouldn't be surprising that someone like Johanna Neuman would be speechless; not understanding things is what MSM reporters are paid to do. I'm not familiar with Asian languages, but with Slavic languages there are issues with transliterations, even with those that don't use Cyrillic but which have letters that aren't used in English. For instance, you can see some Polish letters that aren't used in English here: polish.typeit.org

How would names using those letters be transliterated into the alphabet we use? Could it be transliterated different ways for different documents and cause ID problems?

Why, yes it could.

If Johanna Neuman were a real reporter, she'd seek out non-politicized experts who could help her understand these issues rather than simply acting like a mild version of ThinkProgress.

UPDATE: Brown has issued some sort of apology/clarification, pointing out that she was referring to transliteration. Despite that, the professional grievance mongers are still hot on her heels: aaa-fund.com/?p=1603

By the way, a Google search for "i18n" - a term no one who's not a computer programmer has probably heard of - brings up 5,810,000 hits. That's an abbreviation for "internationalization", and generally speaking refers to what has to be done to deal with differences between character sets, money and weight formats, and so on when dealing with computer software that's to be used in different languages. For instance, if I created a version of this site for use in France I might convert the dates to use their format, and so on. This is a complex topic and instead of dealing with these issues in a grown-up fashion the MSM and leftwing sites and groups just want to play games.

It's unfortunate that there aren't too many others willing to point things like this out.

Thu, 04/09/2009 - 10:55 · Importance: 4