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The world is atwitter over a report that a Chinese couple hopes to name their baby after an email address - but the tale sounds awfully familiar to The Reg.

Citing recent comments from China's State Language Commission, The Associated Press is reporting that the unidentified couple wants to call their baby "@" - the symbol holding together email addresses the world over. We're willing to bet, however, that the AP is digging up old news. We covered a Chinese @ baby in 2004.

The new wrinkle is that, according to commission vice president Li Yuming, the child's father has pointed out that the English pronunciation of @ sounds a lot like the Chinese phrase for "love him."

Li discussed this @ baby during a recent news conference, complaining about unusual names popping up across the country.

With only 129 surnames accounting for 87 per cent of the population, he said, more and more parents are looking for distinctive "first names." Last year, according to the commission, there were 60 million Chinese names that used "unfamiliar characters".

"There was even a 'Zhao-A,' a 'King Osrina' and other extremely individualistic names," Li said.

He did not say if the couple's name had been approved. That's up to the Chinese police, who issue the identity cards. But we're confident the @ baby was rejected nearly three years ago. ®

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