The Naming Game : A Chinese Story
Let us enjoy reading this Chinese Story of The Naming Game.
The ambassador of Nippon presented a beautiful cat to the Emperor of China. The emperor became fond of the animal and took it with him wherever he went. People kept asking for the cat’s name and were surprised when told that it had none.
Eventually the emperor decided that the cat should have a name. He called his ministers, the seven wisest men in the empire, and commanded them to find a suitable name for his pet within seven days.
At the end of this period they were summoned to the palace again, and asked for their suggestions. The youngest of the group thought he had found the perfect name.
“TIGER!” he announced proudly.
“Good name,” said the emperor, after a moment’s reflection. “The tiger is a noble and powerful beast.”
“Noble, perhaps,” said the second minister, “but it is not as powerful as the dragon. Can a tiger soar into the sky? No, but a dragon can! I think DRAGON would be a more suitable name for the cat.”
“Clouds can go higher than dragons,” observed a third minister. “A cloud is more powerful than a dragon. Let’s call it CLOUD.”
“Let’s not be hasty,” advised the fourth wise man. “Clouds may fly high but they are pushed around by winds. Winds are more powerful than clouds. WIND would be the most appropriate name for a great emperor’s pet.”
“WIND?” said the emperor, doubtfully. “Isn’t there anything better?”
“There certainly is!” rasped the fifth wise man. “BRICK WALL!”
“A brick wall can stop a wind, however powerful,” explained the minister. “A brick wall is more powerful than the wind!”
“Oh, I see, “said the emperor. “ Well, BRICK WALL is not a bad name. But isn’t it somewhat long?”
“I have a shorter name,” said the sixth minister. “RAT.”
“Yes, Your Majesty, RAT! A rat can eat through a brick wall, which makes it more powerful than the wall, more powerful than the wind, more powerful than…”
“I get your point,” interrupted the emperor, “but can you call a cat, RAT?”
“Indeed you can’t!” piped up the seventh wise man. “A cat is a cat is a cat. And if a rat is more powerful than the others the cat is even more so because it is mightier than the rat.”
So the royal pet remained nameless in a way because from then on it was simply called CAT. The Naming Game came to the end.
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