To be posed the question of what gives us our name impels us to relate ourselves to traits and attributes that depict familiar characters pervading our sense of social reality. Such is the pertinence of ethnicity as a feature of our daily lives, helping us to make sense of and order the world, which renders it significant. This study takes off from an expansive body of literature on the Chinese overseas and seeks to understand how the Chinese in London are constructing their ethnic identity. Through the combination of historical and ethnographic approaches, the aim is to illustrate the alterity and fluidity in identity by tracing varied historical patterns of Chinese migration and examining the processes of boundary maintenance at inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic levels. In exploring the dialectics between language and identity, it is hoped that more can be learnt about the complexities and subjectivities that govern our encounters with others.