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Friday, October 24, 2008

A Story about Names

What's in a name ("nama" in Indonesian)? That was what Shakespeare said. The term Nama here does not mean the tribe Nama, a tribe in the South of Africa, name is a term that is used to call among the human beings to differentiate them from the others. Name shows the real identity of a person, from where s/he is from, what is his/her background, what is his/her social status, etc.
Soon after a baby is born on the world, his/her parents look for a name for their children. Usually the chosen names are good, names that have impressive meaning, although there are some that only follows the tradition by choosing names that is commonly used in that area, or possibly be named exactly the same as the father's name, like the current United States president.
When I was a child, names that were commonly used were like: Natalia, Andi, Monika, Andre, etc. Which were names that sounded like Western names. There were also names that sounded like Indonesian people's names like: Agung, Dimas, Agus, Hendrawan, and also my own name (Hadi), a name that has Indonesian characteristics. Some time ago, when there was an event, and all people who joined were asked what food they want, or if there are some restrictions. I just chose one of the choices that were provided. Then the other party sent an email back, asking, "Are you a Moslem? Do you need halal food?" Abruptly I answered, "No, I'm not. I can eat any food." It turned out that my name sounds like a Moslem, isn't it. No wonder, the Singapore Idol last time had a name called Hady Mirza.
When I was in secondary school there were my friends using Moslem names like: Choirul Anam, Muhaimin, Masruchin, even there was one who had Isa (Jesus) as his name! When I was in high school I noticed that many of my friends had Western names, it is ununsual to see that someone still uses Chinese name. There is one thing that was quite interesting, that the Western names used are mostly English names, like Stephanie or the variants Stefani, Stefanie, and then Jimmy, Melissa, Adrian, Aileen, Alan, Alex, Annice, Anthony, Ronald, Christine, and so on and so on that if I were to continue it would not finish. The ones who have names like that may have a same name but actually different individuals. Even so, there are a lot of English names where no Indonesians ever used them as long as I know, like: George, Ashlee, Archibald, Cameron, Kyle, Chuck, Montgomery, Murphy, Oswald, etc. Other that that I noticed that not many used names other than English names, although there are several, like: Imelda, Fernando, Alfredo, Anton, Ferdinand, Elvira, Ines, Hanna.
There are also many who like to use Christian names, no matter whether they are have Christian as their religion. There are ones whose name are Christin but they are not Christian. Some of the others uses names in the Bible, prophets, or names of Saints or names of church fathers. Names in Bible like (Indonesian version): Abednego, Petrus, Yusuf, Yosua, Yahya (Yohanes), Maria, Tirza, Hezron, Yosafat, and the English version of the names like: Michael, Matthew, John or Johnie, Peter, James. Names of Saints like: Valentina, Agustinus, Xaverius. Or famous people of the church like Polikarpus.
There are some who use gods' names. For example Diana (Hunting Goddess of the Romes, equivalent to Artemis in Greece), Flora (goddess of flower), Luna (moon goddess), Saraswati (wisdom goddess), Wisnu (carer god), Indra (god of weather and lord of Svargaloka in Hinduism), Surya (god of sun).
There is one occasion when I introduced myself to a Vietnamese, after I mentioned my name, he asked "What is your western name?" I became confused, my name is only this one, except if he asked what is my Chinese name, which I have one. It turned out that because there are a lot of Indonesians that use Western names, he thought that if an Indonesian's name was not a Western name, he actually had a Western name.
What I am questioning is why are there so many people that use English names, although Western people do not consist of only English people, there are some other nations with different cultures. If we notice, Filipinos and East Timor people mostly use non-English names, like: Domingos, Amando, Filipe, Ramos, etc. In fact there is a lot, you know, non-English names that have not been used like Boris, Vladimir, Jaroslav, Gustav, Ulrike, Schmidt, Konrad, Petersohn, Wolfgang, Giuliano, Annetta, Manuela, and so on, and so on.
I see the declining of Javanese people who use typical Javanese names. The name of villagers were taken from the day name such as: Rebo, Kliwon, Wage (like Indonesian Anthem's componist's name), then Dhingklik (small chair), Gudel (calf). And the names such as Poniman, Wakidi, Katemo, Mukinem, Pariyem... are not common anymore, especially in cities. It's very uncommon for kids to have such names. Most of them use considered better names such as Rahayu, Ika, Retno, Sinta, Bambang, or the names that start with Su- like Suharto, Sukarno, Susilo or using Western name such as Randy, Ivan or Arabic name such as Hambali, Shihab, Assegaf.
I just knew that Wati is a sexual intercourse in Arabic, but it seems that in Indonesia the name means a woman, for example antariksawati (female astronaut). I don't know where it came from. Do you know that?
I noticed the tendency that more and more people use Western names, even my ex-housemaid gave her baby a name called Henri. There was even parents who gave their baby a name that is the same as inventors like Enrico Fermi, Thomas Alva Edison, even Albert Einstein! I think it is sooo not creative, the names are copied without modifications.
It makes me feel that Indonesian like to copycat foreign names, something I don't see in other nations like Japan, Korea, Thailand, India, etc. If you're Indonesian, why should we be shy to use the original Indonesian names? I know that for the case of some Indonesian Chinese, some of them don't really like to adopt the local people names as substitutes of their Chinese names, so they prefer Western names. When I was in Junior high school, some of my friends have unique names, such as: Maharani, Sulung, Bangkit, Buang, Gelar, Luhur, Isish (Don't know whether this is a self-made name or there is relations with Egypt god, what I know is isis in Javanese means cool).
In fact it is possible to create unique names, considering that in Indonesia it is quite free to give names, unlike in certain cultures that names of the first child must be the same as the father's, or as I heard, in Singapore the child's name that was registered may not use certain names. Westerners' names sometimes are quite unique, at least if seen from Indonesians' standard, for example like: Brown, Bush, White. An example of unique names like Kristia Monetera, Satu Cahaya Langit (one shine of the sky), or like Melly Goeslaw's child that was named "Anakku Lelaki" (My Son is a Man) and his little brother was named "Pria Bernama" (Popular Man). Also, Sitok Srengenge's (meaning: one sun) child was named "Laire Siwi Mentari" (the child of the sun that was born). There is also jokes about a person named Saklitinov, and the name Saklitinov turned out to be an acronym of Sabtu Kliwon Tiga November (The Kliwon (Javanese calendar day name) Saturday of Third November). Olala...
Source: kejut.com
note: watchout for the virus

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