All rights reserved for individual contributors.
4 Jun 1998
I hope that people realize that “Tikki Tikki Tembo” contains very INCORRECT information about Chinese culture. Naming your first child a long long name and, second child, a name of “little or nothing,” is NOT TRUE at all in Chinese culture. “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo” simply bears no resemblance to a Chinese name. People ususally have two or just one characters for their given names. In Chinese culture, it is important to understand that one needs to know the meaning of a character when naming a child. The length of the name has no importance. Also, “Chang” is NOT “little or nothing.” The author should have done some homework before writing the story.
What’s even more disturbing is that the introduction written inside the book jacket made the story sound like a real folklore. Here’s the first paragraph:
“What’s in a name? A great deal, according to the Chinese of long ago, who honored their “first and honored” son with a grand long name but gave their second sons, of little importance, hardly any name at all! This special treatment of heirs is delightfully put down by Arlene Mosel in her humorous retelling of a favorite folktale of how the Chinese came to give ALL their children short names…”
4 Jun 1998
‘”Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo” simply bears no resemblance to a Chinese name. People ususally have two or just one characters for their given names.’
Wait a second! This tale is an explanation of why Chinese *do* give just one or two characters to their children. Your complaint is sort of like saying, “hey, Kipling, but elephants do have long trunks!”
That this is not a retold folktale does amaze me. Why would the author of such a memorable tale agree to having the the words “retold by” on the cover? Marketing? Please send more evidence of this.
And frankly, if the author did make it up, what harm is there in it? Really now! The book explains a truth–that Chinese give short names to their children. That the truth is explained with a falsehood is mere fun; mere storytelling–harming no one.