That's the question everyone asks. The obvious answer is: it's a very short one. Any shorter, it would be an initial, not a name.
Actually, the name Au (pronounced “awe”) goes back to my family roots in Germany. People are always asking me if it was shortened from something else. From what I've been told, it wasn't. You want to know my theory? When my ancestors came over on the boat, they were probably being charged by the consonant. So the family Axlrdtjmyngfchwkqtzu quickly became the family Au and started a new life with nothing more than two letters to their name. What courage!
If you've ever been to China, you'll know that Au is a very common name over there. It's like Smith over here. Before the National Do Not Call Registry was enacted, it was not uncommon for me to pick up the phone during the dinner hour and hear someone speaking to me in Chinese. Never knew what they wanted but I suspect it had something to do with making a donation to the Beijing Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
I also used to get a fair amount of direct mail from Metropolitan Life written entirely in Chinese. I had a Chinese buddy of mine translate it. Apparently there's a lucrative career waiting for me selling life insurance to members of the Asian persuasion. Anyone know how to say Snoopy in Cantonese?
Finally, for all you chemistry majors, Au is also the symbol for what element on the