Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lucy, Ho Si, Bo Ho Si, Pak Lu Si.....???

While on the subject of names which is my favourite topic, I wonder why there are so many Peters and Marys in the world. Whenever someone tells me his name is Peter I would have to ask for his surname. When he tells me he is a Peter Tan I will have to ask for his Chinese name. I already have five Peter Tan and three Mary Wong in my address book.

Is this probably the reason why the more creative ones go for more fanciful names so as distinguish themselves from the rest. Names that are hard on the tongue eg,
Phenelope, Philomena, Alexandria, Ellysia, etc. However the danger of having such names is that they risk having their names forgotten or murdered.! My ex-student,
Bartholomew, ended up having his name dissected to become "Mew". Worse, some of his more cruel classmates were quite dramatic when they called him "Mew, Mew", making cat like sounds.

Sometimes even simple names will end up being mispronounced, especially if the person is a non-native speaker. I once heard a Contest Chair of a District Competition pronouncing the name "Barry" as "Bar-rie" when it should have been "Bear-rie."

Hence, I can empathise with the lady in our village whose daughter was looked after by my neighbour. She was illiterate and made cakes which she sold at the market. However, her husband was a civil servant who was effectively trilingual!

"Aiyoh, that educated husband of mine. Call our 5 children, "Ah Hock, Ah Huat,
Ah Mei, Ah Hua and Ah Ping lah." But he must make my life difficult by calling them
what "Pare (Pierre), Tua Mak (Thomas), Macy, Jessie, Lucy, Ho Si, Bo Ho Si, Pak Lu Si!!" (Ho Si, Bo Ho Si, Pak Lu Si in Hokkien means Easy to die, not easy to die, beat you till you die). I was amused and even though the lady was illiterate, I thought she was quite humorous and somewhat poetic to think of words to rhyme with her daughters' names!

Hence, dear readers, I hope you will spend ample time when you are naming your new born baby. Once given, the name will stick to the baby for life.

Gan Chau

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