updated 8/16/2007 2:07:27 PM ET 2007-08-16T18:07:27

A Chinese couple seeking a distinctive name for their child settled on the e-mail ‘at’ symbol — annoying government officials grappling with an influx of unorthodox names.

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The unidentified couple were cited Thursday by a government official as an example of citizens bringing bizarre names into the Chinese language.

Written Chinese does not use an alphabet but is comprised of characters, sometimes making it difficult to develop words for new or foreign objects and ideas. As of last year, only 129 names accounted for 87 percent of all surnames in China, Li Yuming, vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.

The letters ‘a’ and ’t’ can be pronounced in a way that sounds like the phrase “love him” in Chinese.

The father “said ‘the whole world uses it to write e-mails and, translated into Chinese, it means ‘love him,”’ Li said.

Li did not say if police, who are the arbiters of names because they issue identity cards, rejected baby ‘at.’

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