Terry Gou, the billionaire head of Foxconn, has been running an independent campaign for president of Taiwan. He doesn’t seem to be running this very well — but that’s not a romanization-related matter.
Anyway, I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about his name, and a photo in today’s news offers just that.
First, let’s get the biggest oddity out of the way: Why does Terry Gou misspell his own name?
His English name is “Terry Gou” (spelled as such). His Mandarin name, however, is Guō Tái-míng/ Guo Tai-ming / 郭台銘. Why is he a G-O-U and not a G-U-O (or, for that matter, not a K-U-O, the spelling most people in Taiwan with that surname use)?
Sorry, I have no answer to this. I’m just noting that it’s weird.
Both of his parents are mainlanders from Shanxi, in the north of China, so this wouldn’t be related to a Taiwanese pronunciation. No major romanization system in Taiwan for Mandarin uses G-O-U for this surname. And G-O-U doesn’t make sense as an ad-hoc spelling for G-U-O/K-U-O.
- He just got tired of people mispronouncing his name (which correctly is pronounced a bit like English’s whoa with a g stuck in front of it) and decided that if they were going to do that, they’d do it on his terms. (In Mandarin G-O-U is pronounced much like the English word go.)
- He thought “Gou” (go!) sounds like an appropriately dynamic name for a businessman.
- Someone at the passport office made a typo that never got corrected.
Has anyone heard any stories about this?
“Good timing” and “GT,” on the other hand, are more transparent. Gou/Guo’s given name is “Tai-ming,” which is indeed pronounced much like the English word “timing.” Note too the typographic touch of using a lowercase i in “TiMING” to help indicate this is both English and not English. Nicely done. Now if only the campaign had worked a bit harder to get anyone to show up at his empty campaign building to sign the petition to put him on the ballot….
Also notable about this photo is the use of “Cing” on the streetsign at right for what would be written “Qing” in Hanyu Pinyin (as part of the name of Qīngnián Lù / Qingnian Road /青年路). The “C” indicates the presence of Tongyong Pinyin, which is standard in Kaohsiung.
Source: Guō Táimíng “Gāoxióng lián shǔ zǒngzhàn” qiāoqiāo kāizhāng gōngzuò rényuán bǐ lián shǔ mín zhòngduō (郭台銘「高雄連署總站」悄悄開張 工作人員比連署民眾多), Liberty Times, September 24, 2023