I get asked every time when I tell someone my nickname/English name is Tom Notch, so here’s the origin:

My primary school English teacher gave me the name Tom, and my high school English teacher gave me the name Notch, so I just combine them together, and that’s it. It sounds catchy and has my vibe. How can you name yourself? Well, my Chinese name is given by my parents, and I respect that. Since they didn’t and won’t give me an English name, I get to choose my own.

Many people keep guessing the underlying true origin of this name, I list some of them I heard before here:

  1. Tom Notch sounds like top-notch, and top-notch means the best.
  2. I’m from HKUST in Hong Kong, and everyone there has an English name of a single word, and I want to be different, at least when called.
  3. I love playing Minecraft, created by Markus Persson (aka Notch in the game, which I just googled), and I want his nickname in my English name.

The official answer to these is that they are just their imagination, and none of them were even known to me for a long time after I became Tom Notch. What about now? They could be true, depending on your thoughts, which has nothing to do with me.

What to call me when you see me in real life? Mukai (pronounced /mukɑi/, which is almost the same as the English word), Tom Notch, or just Tom for short. Don’t ever make fun of my full English name, even professors from my home university know me and call me Tom Notch.

And please, do not add my last name “Yu” when calling me casually if you don’t speak Chinese. Because first, for Chinese, last name always comes before first name, and second, I never hear anyone who doesn’t speak Chinese pronounce it right. They always pronounced it the same as “you”. Sadly, there’s no corresponding phonetic alphabet for its correct pronunciation, but there’s Pinyin for it: yǘ . If you know how to pronounce ǘ , then adding a /j/ would be its correct pronunciation: /jǘ/. Tell me when you want to try.

Tom out.