Sunday, 30 September 2007

Just wondering... - Voracious Blog Reader

Many Indian people living in the western world have a nick name/alternate name since the western world finds it hard to pronounce their names.

Why do they find it hard? Don't we not learn the pronounciation of their names? Why not they then? Probably westerns have a answer to my above questions.

On the othe hand, people come up with their nicknames/alternate names themselves.

I can understand situations like:

" Hi, I am Dhanalakshmi. People call me Dhana".

" Hi my name is Bharath Kumar. People usally call me Bharath".

But why situations like:

" My name is Kamakshi. You can call me kams"

Or

" My name is Krishnamurthy. You can call me kris"

Is it an inferiority complex that leads to suggesting nicknames ourselves? Or is one trying to sound western? Or is one changing their name to be accepted in a group?

For example, in the U.S, the number of Indians living is quite a huge sum. Why then do they name their kids "Laya, kris etc.," trying to hide their race? The name wouldn't stand out if it was a usual name like "Krishnakumari or rajalakshmi" considering the huge population of Indians right?

Do the foreign nationals in India, working on an extended period of a couple of months to a few years, change their names from "Renate" to "Rani" or from "Heinrich" to "rishi"?

Update: Just to maintain the gravitas of my post, did not include the following funny video earlier.



Voracious Blog Reader


35 comments:

Ankur said...

its not inferiority complex...
u have to understand that
1) not many people like reciting 20-50 syllable long names of gods... so shortening is logical.
2) often the full name of SI contains the city/village name... now nobody would like to be called Mr Bangalore etc. so its good to suggest them what part of the long long name should the other person pick up.

3) often people have people from other culture have problem reciting the complicated pronunciation... so its better to have a short simple nick name rather than correcting people over and over again

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Ankur

Nice explanations. Lol.

Voracious Blog Reader

Sree's Views said...

Hey Partner :)
Nice post . I too have wondered why people shorten their names to some syllable that is not even remotely associated with their original names....but even I am guilty of shortening names , Kootalee.
I dont shorten my name but I shorten all my friends names. Our blogger Sowmya is Sowms , Aishwarya is Aish , Bhuvana is Bhuvan and ofcourse u r V ;-)
Anks ? Anki ? ;-) :))

enjoyed reading the post , Partner :)
see yaa !

Sree's Views said...

is Aish , Bhuvana is Bhuvan and ofcourse u r V ;-)
Anks ? Anki ? ;-) :)) //
oh..missed a line..
It has to be

How do we call Ankur ?
Anks ? Anki ? ;-) :))

:)

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Sree

//
but even I am guilty of shortening names

Our blogger Sowmya is Sowms , Aishwarya is Aish , Bhuvana is Bhuvan and ofcourse u r V ;-)

//

Don't be. Calling Sowmya as Sowms and so on and so forth are because you want to address the person in an affectionate way and not because their names are difficult to pronounce or you want to make it sound "hip".

//

How do we call Ankur ?
Anks ? Anki ? ;-) :))
//

hee hee. Just call him by his name viz. "Ankur" [same spelling but pronounced as "Anchor"]. He usually anchors his boat when he sees sharks and rants, instead of chasing them. :D

See you soon partner.

Voracious Blog Reader

Sowmya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sowmya said...

iayyao..yar koopta..yar koopta ennai!

ohh vobs aa ok ok :P

hi sree,

neenga anga anks , and inga vobs kooda Collaboration aah !

Voracious Blog Reader said...

Hi Sowmya,

How are you?

I avoid your blog "Sowmya's kitchen". I don't want to read that blog again.

Thats because I become hungry after reading that blog :( no matter whether my stomach is full or not. And I end up eating something. :)

Really nice blogs you have.

//
neenga anga anks , and inga vobs kooda Collaboration aah !
//

yabba...ippadi oru shortening-a???? :D

Yes, orey collaborations dhaan :)

Voracious Blog Reader

Ankur said...

i have such a short simple name... even a small kid can pronounce it correctly... why would u gals like to dissect it?

tulipspeaks said...

some ppl are doing it due to inferiority complex, we got to admit that. but some just want to make their names to be pronounced easily. i was known as amutha during my primary and secondary school, but when i entered pre-U, the majority of my classmates were chinese and they found it hard to pronounce such a short name! thus, i bcame ammu to them. and i always been ammu in my home. :)


ammu.

Krish Ashok said...

Aah :) Sir VBR finally blogs. So he does "really exist" ;)

My experience with nicknames has been interesting. For one, I have a full name that only has 3 syllables - Krish Ashok. And Americans have variously pronounced Ashok as
1. Ash Cock
2. A Shock
3. Uh Shook

I cannot possibly shorten it further (ala Kams) so I tend to ask them to use my last name (Krish)

Curious said...

VBR don't even get me started on this one! :D though the case is a wee bit diff...

I like y name without nick and others like to shorten it! :D

Thanks to anniyan anyone and everyone has a liberty over my name...though I am jus fine without it. I sometimes even insist on calling me by my full name...

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Ankur

No offense meant. :)

@ Amutha

Mind if I address you this way? or do you prefer your pet name at home? I came to know you as Ammu and would like to stick to it though. :)

Take care ammu.

@ Krish Ashok

Can't help laughing at the various pronounciations for the 3 syllable word. Are the Americans that dumb? I am sure you have the knack to sound the same when it comes to their names. Tried that? How did they react?

//
Aah :) Sir VBR finally blogs.
//

Are you sure about the way you have addressed me?

//
VBR finally blogs. So he does "really exist" ;)
//

Yes. And I would understand if you prefer not to scratch my back :p

@ Curious

hee hee hee. Nice one.

I like the way you insist that your name be pronounced fully. Way to go Curious. Proud of you. :)

Voracious Blog Reader

R.Prabhu said...

Nice Post Voracious Blog Reader, it is of course a big question that has been sitting in my mind too. My answer to it would be that most people who shorten their names are the ones who don't want to live for themselves, but should be pleasing somebody or satisfy somebody. Of course, the affectionate shortening of the names is different. But the Ayyampettai Arivudai Nambi Kaliyaperumal Chandrans prefer to introduce themselves as Chandru or Chan (imitating Jackie Chan) :D, but a nice noteworthy point brought to the front, good post once again

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Prabhu

Thanks Prabhu. This topic has been sitting in my mind too for a long time.

//
...are the ones who don't want to live for themselves, but should be pleasing somebody or satisfy somebody
//

You have brought a new perspective to this issue. You are right. People tend to please somebody by changing their names.

Voracious Blog Reader

Mahendra said...

Nice post. I suspect there are many reasons, depending upon the situation and circumstance:

1. Brevity, as Ankur points out.
2. Pronunciation: it's not a question of Americans being dumb. We Indians are schooled in multiple languages since childhood, and our Sanskrit-derived languages pack a large assortment of consonants and syllables. We are experts across the world because of our ability to pronounce difficult words correctly.
3. How many times have you said William Gates, and not Bill? Or Michael Tyson, and not Mike? Point is, it's not just Indians who do it, they do it themselves too.

Akanathan said...

Have you ever tried to pronounce the names like the Zimbabwe cricket Mpumelelo Mbangwa? Even our Bengali friends can not pronounce "V". of course Indians are much better and we adopt to anythings so easily.

I have heard Indians change their names in western countries for business reasons. If the names are easy to pronounce and sound similar to their region, some sort of affection comes which is good for business. One interesting change of pronunciation without changing the spelling is "Manohar" being called as "Man O' Har". (Some NRI friends used to tell me this)

In India too, people shorten their names for having pet names or to show more affection to one. Over the period it holds. My wife is very good in making names short for people. I am called "Aggie" (only by my wife ok) by my wife.She does this for every friend of hers.

At times it becomes too much. In Bangalore, I have heard almost all Padmanabhans are called as "Paddy" and a lot of Shanmugams being called "Shan", of course Mahalingam as "Maali". Very funny na. But in colleges, it is initials to give the respect to prof and in corporates it is to have the conversation very easy like VK, MK, etc.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Mahendra

Hi Mahendra. Yes, sanskrit language sure helps.

The names "Bill Gates" and "Mike Tyson" weren't used to make the pronounciation of their original names easier right?

@ Akanathan

//
Have you ever tried to pronounce the names like the Zimbabwe cricket Mpumelelo Mbangwa?
//

No, I haven't for I don't know how it is pronounced. But if I know how it is pronounced I would definitely pronounce it rightly. I wonder whether he is ready to have a nick name called "Bang".

//
In India too, people shorten their names for having pet names or to show more affection to one
//

You are right. Having a pet name, as many pointed out, is to show affection.

I knew a guy called Padmanabhan and he was called Paddy amongst his friends. This was because there were two guys named Padmanabhan and hence to differentiate, the name "Paddy". But he has not lived in Karnataka. I am wondering at the similarities.

Taking about initials, the director Balachandar is always quoted as "K.Balachandar". I wonder why.

Voracious Blog Reader

Priyank said...

Apart from all the reasons given above, I usually ask them NOT to address me by last name for the simple reason that I find a mispronounced name derogatory! Oh yeah and Indians too stumble with Chinese, Russian or some East European names, even those guys shorten it :)

Mahendra said...

Yes, VRB: I was trying to list different reasons - why Americans like their names to be shorter has got nothing to do with difficulty of pronunciation.

Priyank: I would like to make a distinction here. When Indians stumble with East European or Oriental names, it is because they are unfamiliar with how to interpret the pronunciation from the English representation of the name, not because of the inherent difficulty of pronunciation.

I mean, if you write those names in Devnagri when introducing them to an Indian person, he would not have any difficulty. That is the reason once an Indian learns the correct pronunciation by actually listening to it, he learns and then doesn't stumble.

This doesn't hold true with our names, however many times we may explain the pronunciation to Americans or others.

Priyank said...

Mahendra, I agree with the reasoning. That is indeed how it works (never thought about it). So maybe those guys too shorten (or change) it for the sake of Americans!

prerna said...

Sometimes it helps to have a nick name because your name is distorted by the Western World. Why Western world alone,people fron non Hindi speaking states distort Hindi names and Hindi speaking people distort the South Indian and Bengali names.
I am a victim of this so I can understand the justification of having a nick name.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Mahendra

You are correct. If we learn the pronounciation right, we stick on to it.

@ Priyank

//
So maybe those guys too shorten (or change) it for the sake of Americans!
//

That makes me wonder too.

@Prerna

Yes. You are true. But do the people find it difficult to pronounce the names properly even after learning the correct pronounciation?

Voracious Blog Reader

Jeevan said...

True, many like to shorten their names. My uncle’s kid name dharshine we call her dachu, one of my cousin name was ashwin, we call him achu.

My buddies here call me Jeevz instead of Jeevan. Nice video!

anusha said...

come on ..... its not an inferiority complex ((most of the times)) it starts out simple as a pet name amongst pals ......as it easier to make fun/pull leg of a single syllable name than a bigger 1..... then it just carries on.... n isn't it kinda bugging correcting ppl again n again ..... n its not always for the westerners too....... most north-Indians ve a hard time pronouncing ZH ..... as in tamizh .. isnt that y v ve kept it as Tamil.... ??? n we ourselves find it very difficult to pronounce a manipuri name.... so we shorten it ..... so as long as its done in good humor.... i guess its fine

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Jeevan

Hi Jeevan. Great that you liked the video.

@ Anusha

Hi. Welcome here.

//
n isn't it kinda bugging correcting ppl again n again
//

I would like to know more. Can you please ask the people as to why they find it bugging to teach somebody to pronounce their name properly?

//
n its not always for the westerners too....... most north-Indians ve a hard time pronouncing ZH .....
//

Whats your take on Mahendra's point of view. I accord with his view.

By the way, can you please enable "publishing comments without an account" in your blog. Thank you.

Voracious Blog Reader

Shefaly Yogendra said...

VBR: In my experience, North Indians are more likely to make a hash of pronouncing names like Mahendra (Mahinder!), Devendra (Davinder!) and names containing -sha- (always -sa-, just like nails screeching down a blackboard), than many westerners. If one patiently teaches them once, they normally do not resort to familiar names.

That said, I wrote something about names a few weeks ago, which may interest you:
http://laviequotidienne.wordpress.com/2007/08/23/the-name-game-or-gaming-naming/

Thanks for visiting my blog earlier.

Shefaly Yogendra said...

Link broke, sorry:
http://laviequotidienne.wordpress.com/2007/08/23/
the-name-game-or-gaming-naming/

Voracious Blog Reader said...

Hi Shefaly,

Welcome here.

Thanks for the link.

//
Mahendra (Mahinder!), Devendra (Davinder!) and names containing -sha- .....
//

Thanks for pointing it out. Its true. I have come across one such case. Anantharaman as Anatharam.

As you said, once the right pronounciation is taught, everything becomes easy.

Voracious Blog Reader

CW said...

The husband & I both have difficult to pronounce names (by local standards). He opts to use his simpler surname while I don't. After all I take the effort to learn to pronounce new (to me) names don't I!
But it's not just Indians who do this- I have several Chinese friends who have adopted english names just so it makes it easier for them and those they interact with. Guess ultimately it boils down to how patient one is..would you rather correct someone's flawed pronunciation or give yrself a nick..many seem to choose the latter.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

Hey CW,

Yes, many choose the latter idea. But can one attribute it to patience? I wonder.

Kudos on your efforts to pronounce new names.

Voracious Blog Reader

Deekshanya said...

Awesome video!! Loved it! I agree totally with you, these indians living in america... dunno what to say - they are so dumb to change their name - the identity given to them by their beloved parents.

Voracious Blog Reader said...

@ Deekshanya


Thanks.

Yes, the identity given to them by their parents. :(

Voracious Blog Reader

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