Tuesday, July 27, 2021

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

 

JANUARY Low
A lot apparently, especially if you are stuck with an UNUSUAL one. When Savvy Girl was seven, she came home and announced excitedly, “Mie, the girl sitting next to be is called Beat Rice.” We Chinese do have unusual Chinese names but “Beat Rice” takes the cake (sorry for the weak pun.) “Beat rice” turned out to be Beatrice of course and in Asia, this is a rare name and she pronounce it as how it was spelt.
Director of Mulan: Legendary Warrior - JINGLE Ma.

During my years growing up, I have had friends with surprising names. Their parents probably named them without realising that the combination of a Christian name with a Chinese surname can sound like an English word. Like my friend Diana. Lo and behold, her surname was the common Chinese surname “Soh.” She was Diana Soh.

 We called her “Dinosaur” all through school. She was very proud being related to beasts of the past.

 A Chinese combination is Ngor (surname) Ti Juan (Chinese name), so he became Naughty Juan. He did live up to his name and gave the teachers and the girls “hell” in school! But on the last day of school just before the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR at 12 years-old) results were released, he actually knelt down and apologised to the teachers and girls. Another Chinese name is Pua Lay See. Sometimes the parents do not realise that the two names amount to an English word.

Some parents give names for their children to live up to. I met Atomic L in Uni. He was my senior doing his PhD in Science. After getting to know him well, I asked the question that was on my lips since the day we met, “Is your father a scientist?” “No, but he wanted my brothers and I to be scientists,” said he. “Your brothers’ names?” asked I. “Nuclear and Hydrogen!” He was not kidding as I did meet Nuclear.



When I became a teacher, I shouted out “Khor Chicken” on a roll call.





Ayam Serama - Bantam chicken breed.

 A huge roar of laughter followed and poor Khor Chee Ken stood up bashfully. With 50 names to call out, I was excused for my mistake. Chee Ken completed his Science degree and became a singer! Another time when I did not wear my glasses I called out, “Ahmad Superman,” instead of “Supraman,” a common Malay surname. Ahmad did not perform like Superman, 

but he was called Superman throughout his undergraduate studies, thanks to a very long-sighted teacher.

Some parents give names to their kids cos they think it is cute but it can be hard on the child. There is a “Tinkerbell Leee” and "Little Flower" in Malaysia. Others named them on the months so I have acquaintances named April, Mei, my niece June and a guy friend Julai. Princess Beatrice has named her son August. January Low is a beautiful Malaysian Chinese who is an accomplished Indian classical dancer. I saved the best for last.  When I worked at the Institute for Medical Research, many of the staff were of Malay ethnic origin. As a term of endearment, the Malays often add the prefix “Si-” before the first name: Si-Putih (white) for a cat, Si-Belang (a cat with strips), Si-Comel (a cute child). Our research assistant was called Phyllis Lam. 

Phyllis was the sweetest and gentlest girl in the lab and the boys adored her. So naturally,  the medical lab assistants endearingly called her Si-PhyllisPhyllis and my mum

Imagine being called Syphilis by the guys at work! Even the Head Division raised his eye brows. I was asked to kindly explain to the boys to drop their term of endearment.

Thory (named after the Norse God of Thunder) celebrates 21 human years today. We haven't had cake for 2 1/2 months of partial lock down. So I baked and iced one. 

 The dogs got one slice each, the humans will share the rest!

21 comments:

  1. A truly fun post - and I hadn't made the link to syphilis until your explanation.
    A happy birthday to Thor and a happy cake day to everyone.

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  2. Glad Thory and Belle are happy with their one slice!

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  3. ¿te puede creer que no he visto mulan?

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  4. How can some parents give such names to their kids? ... I have never heard of “Nuclear" or "Hydrogen". In Italy it is forbidden to give names of places (such as Venice, Florence, etc.) or family names (surnames).
    Happy birthday to Thory! That iced cake looks delicious.
    Glad you enjoyed my post.

    All the best,

    Giorgio

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    1. Celebrity parents do give the most fanciful names to their children these days!

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  5. A name is something parents should think about very carefully before bestowing it on a child who will have to carry the burden of a quirky moniker for the rest of his or her life.

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    1. Yes, parents should be more careful with names. SOmetimes we fail to realise that Chinese names do form an English word until it is pointed out like Ngor Ti Juan

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  6. Boa tarde. Realmente tem uns nomes bem estranhos.

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  7. Dog look part of the family.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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  8. Wohooo real man...

    Yang hobi sangat nonton

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  9. Interesting post on the names parents gave their children. Some parents have too many children that they couldn't think of good names to give their children that they giving number names according to their birth such as child number 12 will be named "ta yee" after their surname. Pet dogs are members of the family and good to celebrate their birthdays too.

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    1. I agree Nancy that the Chinese have a lot of names for their children, lots of them after flowers and cute animals

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  10. This was so fun to read - those names are hilarious - hilary us...oh well... anyway fun post and so interesting.

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    1. Hilary us is a funny English one, Sandy

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    2. I think my favorite you mentioned was Beat Rice, lololol I know a little girl named Beatrice. I should share that idea with her mom. Beat rice, lol

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  11. It's always so itnerestign coming up with a name for a child and with there beign another language involved it would be tricky to get it right all the time I think! We thought about our kids names for a while, and in the end we had a list of 3 (for our eldest boy) and 2 for our youngest boy when they were born, We picked the names they suited the best when we got to meet them. It's funny as despite picking a very very traditional name for my eldest, his name is the one most misspelled! It's a top 10 name here too so very popular. My youngest name isn't as popular and yet it's never been misspelled by people yet, haha!

    Hope you are having a nice weekend :) We will be at home enjoying this rare summer-like warmth in the middle of winter :)

    Away From The Blue

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  12. Your comment reminds me of my friend called Leonie (a rare name). It was later spelt Lionie in her ID. I named my daughter after a friend who was gracious and kind and who was always with a smile.

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  13. OMG, I can't hold my laugh 😅.. Tapi memang laah, when I was a child, banyaaak sangat teman2 played on other friends' names. Tapi seringnya, using the parents' name. Like mine, just because my name is normal and difficult for them to play on, Fanny fristhika nila, then, they're using my father's surname, Pasaribu. This is actually a clan name in Tapanuli for Bataknese.

    They changed it to become PASAR (MARKET) SERIBU( THOUSAND). but unfortunately for them, saya tipe yang not easily offended 😁. Malah nama itu bisa dianggab pujian, it means my father's rich as he has thousand of markets hahahahahah.

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