deponti (deponti) wrote,
deponti
deponti

What's in a name?

What's in a name?

Well, quite a lot, it would seem. Since I am very interested in names, I tend to take note of unusual ones. ((Some recent ones, Ditaujas, Nishchita and Yami.)

Over a period of time, I find that we (including me) tend to expect a certain kind of person on hearing a certain type of name. One might assume a Raghavendra to be a Kannadiga, a Krishnan (not to miss that "n" at the end!) to be Tamil, Gurwinder to be from Punjab, and so on.

But names can also prove a source of distress and difficulty. Recently, a friend told me how, when the local school authorities saw his name, they assumed him to be from the poorer section of society, which led to the further assumption that the parents would not pay the fees! Fearing such associations, my friend's father changed his name somewhat!

Similarly, some decades ago, someone named his sons Shankar Prasad, Vishnu Prasad and Dev Prasad. He explained to me that south Indians were scorned in Delhi, where they lived, and he hoped that the son's names might result in their being thought of as north Indians.

Indians recently have a great yen for christening their children with the most outre and rare names imaginable. I remember a satirical article by "Concerned Citizen" in the Hindu, where he says, "I call my grandson Arun. His name is some other nonsense that his parents found on the internet" ...or words to that effect! What's in a name?

Well, quite a lot, it would seem. Since I am very interested in names, I tend to take note of unusual ones. (Two recent ones, Ditaujas and Nishchita!)

Over a period of time, I find that we (including me) tend to expect a certain kind of person on hearing a certain type of name. One might assume a Raghavendra to be a Kannadiga, a Krishnan (not to miss that "n" at the end!) to be Tamil, Gurwinder to be from Punjab, and so on.

But names can also prove a source of distress and difficulty. Recently, a friend told me how, when the local school authorities saw his name, they assumed him to be from the poorer section of society, which led to the further assumption that the parents would not pay the fees! Fearing such associations, my friend's father changed his name somewhat!

Similarly, some decades ago, someone named his sons Shankar Prasad, Vishnu Prasad and Dev Prasad. He explained to me that south Indians were scorned in Delhi, where they lived, and he hoped that the son's names might result in their being thought of as north Indians.

Indians recently have a great yen for christening their children with the most outre and rare names imaginable. I remember a satirical article by "Concerned Citizen" in the Hindu, where he says, "I call my grandson Arun. His name is some other nonsense that his parents found on the internet" ...or words to that effect!

Many Asian immigrants to the US(especially Chinese) change their names to ones that they think Americans can say easily. I was less and less surprised to find various objects around the house becoming the names of Chinese people I came into contact with.

I am not surprised at this; I think many names can be unpronounceable for people from other regions and cultures. Growing up in Kolkata, I was so fed up with people turning my name (Deepalakshmi) either into Deepalokki or, even worse, Deeplosmee, that I shortened it to Deepa! My sister in law Bhavadharini became Bhava for the same reason. But it irks me when newsreaders can carefully pronounce Lech Walesa (pronounced Leh Wawensa!) and murder a Vijayaraghavan. The top mispronouncation happened when a Bengali newsreader intoned, many years ago, "The kaaarnaataaakaaa cheap meeneestaar, Shri Debraaj Arse...."

So when, next time, I find myself stymied by a Welsh of a Polish name, full of consonants that I do not know how to bring out, I think of the trouble poor Devarayanahalli Sriparamatma Rameshwara Sharma will have, all his life! Or, come to that, Elon Musk's child, X Æ A-12...which needs the parent to come online to explain how to pronounce it!

Many Asian immigrants to the US(especially Chinese) change their names to ones that they think Americans can say easily. I was less and less surprised to find various objects around the house becoming the names of Chinese people I came into contact with.

I am not surprised at this; I think many names can be unpronounceable for people from other regions and cultures. Growing up in Kolkata, I was so fed up with people turning my name (Deepalakshmi) either into Deepalokki or, even worse, Deeplosmee, that I shortened it to Deepa! My sister in law Bhavadharini became Bhava for the same reason. But it irks me when newsreaders can carefully pronounce Lech Walesa (pronounced Leh Wawensa!) and murder a Vijayaraghavan. The top mispronouncation happened when a Bengali newsreader intoned, many years ago, "The kaaarnaataaakaaa cheap meeneestaar, Shri Debraaj Arse...."

So when, next time, I find myself stymied by a Welsh of a Polish name, full of consonants that I do not know how to bring out, I think of the trouble poor Devarayanahalli Sriparamatma Rameshwara Sharma will have, all his life!...Or, come to that, Elon Musk's child...X Æ A-12...a name which needs the parent to come online to explain how to pronounce it. I can just imagine the kindergarten teacher struggling with, "You! Ex-Ash-Ay-Twelve! Don't make so much noise!"
Tags: humour, name, opinions, thoughts
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