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On the Essence of Renaming

William Broyles once said that the renaming of things is the essence of conquest. He compared renaming to conquest like the Portuguese occupation of Macau. It sounds like a change of sovereignty. In other words, it discloses the switch of proprietorship. In fact, this theory is plausible no matter from a macroscopic point of view or from a microscopic one.



Macroscopically, the cases about renaming mainly concentrated in political and economic field, which shows astounding correspondence to the theory.



 In the political field, at the core of renaming is the transference of power. The renaming of a nation is always associated with the administration of different governments. For example, Britain renamed the Netherlands as New York when Britain conquered this land and escaped the Dutch. Now that Britain came to power, a new name should be ushered for this land to claim its control and ownership over it. This case exemplified the change of power.



In business, the renaming of Mc Donald exemplified it. On 12 October, 2017, Mc Donald officially named to Jin Gongmen, meaning the golden arch. At that time, this event really caused a sensation. Hence, some people supposed this action might be a means of advertising. It seems true ostensibly. However, it is also the change of ownership. Prior to the renaming of Mc Donald, the acquisition of this corporation had been completed. So what is responsible for its renaming is the corporate ownership.


Microscopically, for individuals, renaming also embodies the proprietorship. In this case, the so-called conquest in William Broyles' statement refers to psychological submission to a large extent.
 In the West, the institution of adopting their husbands' surname when women get married has been entrenched in society. This institution is developed from patriarchal system, in which female is merely the male's wealth. As we all know, it is the ownership that connects the proprietors and their property. But this ownership is transferred from the bride's father to her husband hereafter. Besides, females must be obedient to their husbands after renaming themselves. Their husbands became their directors. Therefore, the essence of renaming is the switch of the controller.


In ancient China, the gift of a surname from the king reflects the official's obedience to the monarch. Once the emperor makes this decision, the official who is given the name must rename himself. However, only when the official remains piety and loyalty to the king, can him get that gift, which was seen as a crowning glory at that time. This system is a marvelous for the king to control the officials. Apart from giving a good name to a person, the king also can give him a bad name if the official offends king and the king feel difficult to dictate to the official. The most impressive one the Emperor Kangxi's eighth son, who was renamed A Qina, meaning pig, by his brother, Emperor Yongzheng among these cases. So, the entitlement to renaming implies the change of mastery.


Renaming is an obscurely cultural phenomenon, but what it reveals is the transition of power and the obedience from the lower to the upper in essence. It is a small part of iceberg afloat the sea, but under the sea is an enormous and tremendous part.


Editor: Xie Di

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