[ziˈɛl t͡sou̯]


My name in Chinese is 周正隆, pronounced [ˌt͡sou̯ t͡sənˈloŋ]. The first half of my given name, 正 [t͡səŋ], means ‘righteous’ or ‘perfect, correct’. The second half of my given name, 隆 [loŋ], either means ‘prosperity’ or ‘sound of thunder’. I regret that family names are opaque in Chinese, as one meaning of 周 [t͡sou̯] is ‘all-around’ — it would have been exciting to be ‘all-around righteous sound of thunder’.

Because I am both from the south of China and a native speaker of Hangzhouese, which has no /t͡ʂ/, I prefer my name pronounced with [t͡s] s instead of [t͡ʂ] s. Actually, I prefer my last name to be always pronounced as [t͡sou̯], even in English.

Z.L. Zhou

When I moved to the U.S., one of the first things I had to do was rename myself at the behest of my preschool teacher. This was, in retrospect, a ridiculous thing to ask of a five-year-old. Lacking anything even remotely resembling creativity, I decided to abbreviate ‘Zhenglong’, the pinyin rendering of 正隆, as ‘Z.L.’ and leave it at that. The periods would, of course, be mandatory, to remind you of that it wwas an abbreviation. I felt very smart, knowing that abbreviations in English had periods.

So, my first name in English is Z.L., pronounced [ziˈɛl], with iambic stress and nonoptional punctuation. However, when my name is said in full, it undergoes stress shift to become [ˌzi.ɛl ˈt͡sou̯]. I think this might be an Obligatory Contour Principle effect, which strikes me as pretty funny, since it results in my English name having the same stress pattern as my Chinese name.

Ok, you got me. It doesn't really strike me as all that funny, I just like the OCP.