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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What to Call me, Gia or Gina?

Lately I’ve been getting a few inquiries about my name. Is it Gia or Gina? Just when you thought there were only two choices. Ha! I actually have three names:

1. My birth name consists of three Chinese characters; phonetically they sound like Sum Ga Ying. Since my parents are both Chinese, I was called by this name from the time I was born until I entered middle school. The characters are lovely when written, their significance is also very precious to me. The first child of a Chinese family is very important, even better if it’s a boy, nevertheless, my parents were happy to have me. They chose a name that bestowed upon me all their loving intentions. Although my dad describes it more elegantly, Sum Ga Ying means, “the bowl that is always overflowing”. They hoped my bowl, symbolic of my life, would always overflow with good things and I would never be wanting. Only my Chinese relatives, the ones who don’t speak English fluently, call me Ga Ying.

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This my my dad in a cafe in 1969.

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This is my mom in 1966.

2. My second name Gina Parsons, Gina an American/Italian? name was given to me by my American godfather and his Thai wife. I spent some time living with them in Thailand when I was between 2 and 3 years old, as my parents were getting acquainted with their new life on Guam. Parsons is the surname I borrowed from my godparents while I was living with them and it stuck., My parents call me Gina; my sisters, some of my extended family and my friends call me Gina. Sometimes Deme calls me Gina too but he switches back and forth between Gia and Gina. Deme tries Ga Ying, but since he is a bit tone deaf, messes it up everytime.

3. Gia Dinh Parsons is my official U.S. government and now my official Italian government name. This name is a bastardization and botched up translation of my Chinese name, Ga Ying. If you’re an immigrant or refugee from any country then you might have had an experience with a botched translated name. This was my name in college and so all my college friends call me Gia. If I have to fill out an official form/resume then Gia is the name I have to use. I think I am called Gia by about 30-35% of the people who know me.

Because my name is Gina and Parsons, I have been mistakenly accused of being of mixed race, Caucasian and Chinese. Look at the photo below, I’m almost 2 here and in Vietnam, I don’t think I looked mixed at all.

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At 9:03 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

I always wondered about this! I'm so glad to have the mystery cleared up! :)

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Gia said...

You forgot Gina La.

Your sis with the same bloody problem,


At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Sabrina said...

Now I understand... I had a basic Chinese Mandarin course here in Singapore... very very interesing. I did not study the characters but only the Hanyu Pinyin... how do you read your Chinese name... I mean what tones are there in your name?


At 1:18 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Hi Sabrina,
I have no idea how to write the Pinyin equivalent of my name, all I know is no one none Chinese can say it. Everyone has tried. It's Cantonese so a bit more complicated.

I don't have Gina La in my daily life anymore so I don't have to deal with it thank goodness.

The mystery has been simplified a bit, as you can guess my family is a piece of work.

At 3:29 AM, Anonymous trench said...

You shared your roots too! cool! I have about 4-5 different names myself.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Didn't you forget your married name? You registered your maiden name with the Italian government? I was under the impression you would be changing your name.

So would that be Gia Dinh D'Ambrosi?

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Maria said...

Why did you took Parsons as your last name? Are trying to fit in American culture as so many Chineese do now giving their kids two names. I don't understand this custom why don't choose one American or Chineese?


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