This is part 4 of a conversation I had with a taxi driver who took me to the airport in Shenzhen. The conversation was rather long, so I’ve split it into 6 parts. Click here if you’ve missed part 1 (“Is learning English hard for you?”), part 2 (“Do you know Deng Xiaoping?”) or part 3 (Weddings and gifts) and stay tuned for part 5-6: “The most important thing is happiness” and “Does Austria also have birth planning?”.
Cab driver: “Do you like China?”
I: “I do. My husband’s from here.”
He: “Your husband is Chinese?”
I: “He is.”
He: “When you marry in Austria, will the woman marry into the man’s family or will the man marry into the woman’s family?”
I: “I’m not sure what it was like in the past, but nowadays it’s neither nor.”
He: “In China, the woman traditionally married into the husband’s family.”
I: “The other way around is probably quite rare.”
He: “What’s your Chinese last name?”
He: “So you took on your husband’s last name?”
I: “I don’t have a Chinese last name, so I use his last name in China. In German, I still have my former last name, with my husband’s last name added at the end. I just don’t use it in China, it would be way too long, like 7 characters just for the last name.”
He: “I see. So your last name in German would be similar to two-character surnames in China.”
I: “Exactly, just two words put together. What’s your surname?”
I: “I don’t know anyone else with this name.”
He: “It’s not that common in other parts of China, but many Cantonese people actually go by this family name. Do you know Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮 Zhūgé Liàng)*?”
I: “The hero?”
He: “Yes. He was a famous military strategist in China’s Three Kingdom period.”
*Zhuge Liang’s family name – Zhuge – is one of the rarer two-character surnames in China. His first name is Liang, but it’s a different character from the driver, whose last name would be written 梁 Liáng.
Do you like China? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments’ section.