Thursday, July 22, 2010

Say My Name...

I go by three names: my first, middle, and the last part of my name which when I am abroad functioned as my family name (even though it is my name). Most of Indonesians pronounced my first name wrongly. So, I tend to introduce myself using my middle name to Indonesians, which is very common. I had to get used to answering to my 'last name' ever since I moved abroad. It consists of two separate words, the last part of it is also a common girl name in Indonesia. However, no one called me with that last part of my last name. Until today that is.

This lady called across the island to promote her company loyalty card after I enjoyed their service last week. She had this audacity to call me just by the last part of my 'last name'. I lost my interest by then.

The other week, someone tried to call me by my first name, but he then confused it with other female name beginning with the same letter after telling me about one of his employee with that precise name, but he recovered later in the conversation. I let it slide, since he was my client.

I've noticed that Indonesians tend to pay little attention on how to pronounce someone's name. Last year, I heard five different pronunciation of someone's name depending on their locations. I was amazed. It was a simple name, but they were managed to butchered it. In a country where its tradition has it that parents pick their child's name with great care and deep meaning, I would have thought at least we call each other using proper pronunciation, not just saying something for our own convenience without even bother asking how to say it properly. Call me old fashion, but I consider that a courtesy and part of showing our respect.


colson said...

It's way off topic but this sentence drew my attention: "I let it slide, since he was my client". It reminded me of what the late great Flemish author Willem Elschot(who also was a reluctant but successful PR guy) said: "Be always polite to a client; he is your enemy" (Wees altijd beleefd tegen een klant; hij is je vijand).

As for the names - it is confusing to rookies in Indonesian affairs. Since one of my daughters in law became a Dutch national this year, the last of her three names ( it reads en sounds beautiful to my eyes and ears) officially became her 'family name" - Rayahuningsih, wow.

But the real amazing thing to me is that both of my Indonesian daughters in law actually use a nickname in stead of one of the three official ones. I can't but think that nicknames are pretty popular in their generation - the generation of thirty something that is.

Well, I have to give in: Indonesians will always remain an enigma to me.

triesti said...

Sadly, even in hospitality business in Indonesia, client is not always the king and not always be treated politely. I spent last weekend talking about our culture shock with some friends from NL.

Rayahuningsih is pretty unusual name, most of time I met: Rahayuningsih.

You need to linger over here for at least several months colson :) come on.. you can play with Kris during overwinteren

colson said...

OMG. Hiding in shame. Typo. Don't tell her. I misspelled her name. You are right.

Indeed I plan to visit Indonesia ( and Kris) next year with a lot of hope to enjoy but without any hope of understanding the Indonesian enigma.