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Some Family Background


This is the Chinese character for my last name, Liem (pronounced somewhere between Lim and Leem, one syllable. Not "lee-em"--does not rhyme with "b.m.").

Notice how it looks like two trees standing next to each other? Well, the word means "woods." In the US, the spelling "Liem" is rather uncommon compared to the more widespread spellings, "Lin" (Mandarin), "Lim" (Hokkien, I think), "Lam" (Cantonese) and so forth. Also, in Korean, it's "Im," and in Japanese it's "Hayashi."

I'm not sure why my last name is spelled the way it is, but according to my theory, "Liem" is the Indonesian way of spelling it. My family originates in Indonesia.

map of Indonesia


For a background on Indonesian history, click the map above.
(If anyone out there finds a page on Indonesia history that is more general, please let me knowget this gear!

"Liem" may actually be a Dutch spelling, influenced by the Dutch government's lengthy colonization of Indonesia, which was then commonly known in Europe and the New World as the "East Indies" or the "Spice Islands" [NOTE: the nickname "Spice Islands" specifically refers to Indonesia's Molucca Islands. --Ed., 9/1/96]

My parents, along with my older brother and sister, immigrated to the US in 1971. Eventually, they made their way over to New Jersey, where we have resided to date. There my father established himself as an attorney. Oh yes--I was born on July 19th of that year. That makes me both a Cancer and a Boar.

For more information about my personality forecasts, here's a hint: Kiersey's Jungian personality test concluded that I'm an ENTP. I don't necessarily agree with the methodology of that test, however.
My entire Chinese name is Liem Kik Liam (see Main to view the Chinese characters). Kik Liam, I am told, means "conquer with sincerity." (I previously thought it meant "conquer with simplicity" but was recently corrected, although there is not a big difference.)

There is a joke in my family regarding the fact that an alternate meaning of the "Liam" part of my given name is "good value; good bargain", as in K-Mart blue light special.

Such warlike names are considered masculine, and thus it is a common boy's name. It is also common for Chinese families to name their sons with a common masculine syllable. In my family's case, my older brother's Chinese name is Kik Djin, which I think means "conquer, with principle" but I'll have to check. I usually call him "Gus," and I go by "Michael" or "Mike." My sister's Chinese name is Pik Hian, but its translation escapes me at the moment. I think "Pik" means tree, but I could be wrong. I usually call her "Angie."

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