So it’s week 4, you’re still meeting new people every day and it’s all fun and games until you get to the part where you introduce yourself.
We go around the table, there’s a Rachel, a Matthew, a Faris—all fairly easy-to-pronounce names, then it’s your turn and people either squint like they’re trying to make sense of your name, or in some cases, someone thinks your name is Ling Ling. (for a moment there I thought she was about to tell me I forgot my bling-bling)
I can’t be the only one facing this problem, right? At least I know Mr. Uvuvwevwevwe Onyetenyevwe Ugwemubwem Ossas is on my side.
Tons of us end up randomly choosing a nickname out of nowhere to accommodate others, and some even adopt a completely new name once we meet people in globalized settings. (college, uni, especially at work)
People have told me to make my name more “ang mo” (that’s Hokkien for Caucasian) (no h8 m8) so that they can remember me better, but I dunno—I’ve been going by the same name my entire life, so it felt a little odd just randomly picking another name and pasting it to my face.
All we want is to be remembered the way we are, you guys T_T
What I’m trying to get at is: are we subconsciously erasing our identity even with just a simple change to the way we want people to address us? (that is if you simplify it from a name that has your heritage underlying it)
I had an English teacher who made an observation once about how I was only using conventional names in my story essays. (So yes, teachers love it when you use Ali, Muthu or Ah Hock, but just don’t stereotype these names in real life, y’know?)
So came the thought—why was I not doing justice to all the rich names from this part of Asia that I’m living in? It lead to another question—do I somehow have it ingrained in me that anglicized names are better than mine?
It’s been a long time coming for me to start appreciating my roots, and I hope you do too, even though there’s nothing wrong with branching out to foreign cultures and learning about them—especially since it’s so easy for us to be swept away by the waves of modernity in contemporary society.
But hey, people with anglicized names don’t have it easy either. I have a friend whose name is Michelle (I’m sure you know at least two Michelles in your life) but someone pronounced her name as ‘Michael’ instead. *shrugs*
Having a complicated Asian name, or in general a less conventional one that displays your heritage is pretty cool, except maybe you can never find it on any of those quirky souvenir key chains (dammit). Our multicultural country has an exceptionally diverse landscape for names, and if you choose to keep yours like I did (and give others hell for it), or change it up to save someone else the hassle, that’s cool too!
In my most Malaysian way of concluding this: anything also can lah!