Sunday, December 13, 2009


Apparently a lot, if you have been stuck with an unusual one. One day when Martian Girl was 7, she came back from school and announced excitedly," Mummy, the new girl who is sitting next to me is called Beat Rice." I have heard of unusual Chinese names before but "Beat Rice" takes the cake (sorry for the poor pun). "OK, write it down for me," and she wrote "Beatrice." Now, Beatrice is a lovely name and I think one of Queen Elizabeth's grand daughters is so named. But in Asia, it is a rare name and the kids prounced it as they understood the English language - Beat-rice.
Note the director of Mulan is Jingle Ma
All this got me thinking of my friends who have unusual names. A girl in school was called Diana Soh. Soh is a common surname for the Chinese, but put Diana as the first name and she was mad every time we called her -"Dinosaur." And kids are cruel and we were, cos we called her that for 5 years.

At Uni, I chose to do Science. Met a senior called Atomic Leow. He was brillant and doing his PhD. So after getting to know him quite well, I asked THE question, "Is your father a scientist?" "No, but he wanted my brothers and I to be scientists." "Haa..." said I, "what are your brothers' names. "Nuclear and Hydrogen." Look, I never got to meet Nuclear and Hydrogen and I could have ben tricked but he was dead serious.

Then on a roll call for new students a few years ago, I shouted "Khor Chicken." There was a hugh roar of laughter, it should have been pronounced Khor Chi Ken." But when you have 50 names to register, my brain registered Chicken. Khor Chi Ken completed his Science Degree and is now a singer. During a lecture without my glasses on, I called out "Superman." It should have been "Supraman," a Malay name.

And we have parents that give cute names to their kids cos they themselves have not grown up. A male friend was super cool and added another e to his name. What should have been Lee was spelt Leee. But did he have to call his daughter "Tinkerbell?" The girl next to me in college had her name "Little Flower" on her room door. It was a blessing she was little and cute.

Of course we have parents who name the kids after the months they were born in - April, May and June are fine. But January and Julai (a male friend in college) are unusual. January Low is a beautiful Malaysian Chinese girl who is an accomplished Indian classical dancer.

And to save the BEST for LAST and this is true, in fact ALL the names above are TRUE. I worked at the Institute for Medical Research many years ago. The IMR had a lot of staff of Malay ethnic origin, and the Malays, sometimes for endearement, tag the prefix "Si -" before the first name especially for pets, Si-Puteh (White) for cats; Si-Kancil (mousedeer); Si-Belang (stripes) for tigers; Si-Comel (cute).

Well, my cute soft spoken friend has a lovely name - Phyllis. And the guys endearingly called her Si-Phyllis.

Imagine being called Syphilis by the guys at work!!!

Have any of you got an UNUSUAL NAME to share?


  1. What a great and interesting post about names. There sure are some strange ones these days. I think a lot of weird even ridiculous names are given due to the 'celebrity' culture present in the world these days. With parents hoping their child will stand out from the rest. I also think it gives a child so much added presure to live up to being different. Your poor friend Phyllis! I saw an article of new born babies in a dutch parenting magazine - one little boy was name Zero which I thought was rather sad for him.

  2. That is too funny.....Loved this post

  3. Poor Phyllis. Names can be a problem, can't they, usually by lack of thought from parents. Modern parents over here call their children stupid names, names after titles of television programmes for example. Imagine being called News at Ten.

  4. Zero and News at Ten - that is traumatic. I have to agree, sometimes parents think it is so cool but they don't have to grow up with the names given. Over in Asia, we are quite careful abt giving Christian names to our childere as the names may sound lovely but given the Asian way of pronunciation, the names come out quite differently - like Beatrice.

  5. My grandmother used to talk about two girls named Ima and Ura. Their last name was Pig. I'm not sure if this really is true, but it was the rumor.

    I have a friend who swears that her gynecologist is Dr. Cock. Sorry. That's probably totally inappropriate, but it's true, and I still can't say it (or type it) without busting up laughing.

  6. I did also meet a man named Mr Sex! Yes, really. Poor guy!