"What's in a name___________'' is often quoted by
those who have names that need to be abbreviated to
flow off the tongue. Shakespeare, considered the
greatest dramatist of English literature, was nothing
more than a rapper writing stage plays. As for as I am
concerned, his plays are no better than many an Indian
movie I have seen. Add a few love songs, a couple of
more fights, a chorus or two and 'Romeo and Juliet'
could be any of the hundreds of thousands of Indian
films produced ever since the introduction of talkie
in the Subcontinent.
Names create an image, perception and identity of an
animal, thing or a person. A mere mention of a name
brings to mind not only a picture but also one's
personal impression of the object. Take Jennifer for
an example. The very name conjures up an image of a
pretty, blue-eyed teenager with blond hair tied in a
ponytail, straw hat slung back, flowery cotton dress,
white socks with black shoes and out on a picnic on
the shore of a lake.
Call her Jenna and you see a glass of margarita in her
hand, or add a Spanish last name and there is a sultry
brunette looking as sexy and vivacious as any Gina or
Sophia. Mary and Pauline are typical girls-next-door.
Susan, Brenda and Patricia are as nondescript as
Roger, David and Patrick.
Expecting Bertha to look petite and pretty is like
wishing a Dick Halliburton Cheney to be considerate
towards the poor, old and the sick. Matilda and Thelma
sound like overweight middle-aged women who could
never have been young and cute. Gertrude is a name
often given to pet ducks, or women who waddle around
in the aisles of food stores. How did they ever find
husbands and reared a brood is a question that beats
Readers, you are people of the world. Pray, have you
ever met a curvaceous pretty young thing named
Dorothy? Dorothy is destined to be a toothy, long
nosed, sharp chinned, a bag of bones with ears like a
letter sticking out of a mailbox.
Mat, Josh or Brad represent strapping young, handsome
hunks in their mid twenties playing a sport or sitting
relaxed on a bar stool with girls swooning all over
A frail and sick man of ninety years waiting to die in
a nursing home can only have a name like Jacob or
Bertrand. Calling him by any other name is a
Billy is often a tattooed redneck, drunk and stumbling
out of his trailer park home without a shirt and jeans
slipped down almost to his knees. The name says it all
if you want to know about the origin of a man living
in USA. That is the method applied by computers to
pick passengers traveling by air for special search
Arabs are easy to recognize. All you need to do is
misspell two biblical names and stick a
"bin" in the middle. In case of terrorists,
you add Abu before an Arabic sounding name. If the
last name has more than twenty letters then he is an
Indian of dark complexion with gleaming white teeth
and a ready smile spread across the face from ear to
ear. Just imagine the agony of a young child having to
learn to spell his own last name like
Ramaswamynathandeshpandey. You know instantly that he
is going to slave away his life in an office cubicle
of an Info-tech company.
Singh is Indian version of the Irish. Tempt a Singh to
talk wisely and you will have bellyful of laughs.
Pakistanis are easily recognized by their jobs. They
have monopoly over jobs on gas stations and driving
Abduls are illegal aliens unless they found an ugly
and fat white woman to marry all the four brothers in
Most Spanish men invariably have names like Eduardo,
Alfonso or Alberto. Why have they left out John, Henry
and David? That smacks of racism of some kind. All
they had to do was add letter ‘O’ at the end to
convert them to regular Spanish names. Hesoos, somehow
never quite inspires the reverence Jesus does. I
address everyone simply as Amigo to avoid having to
remember names of individuals.
Chinese should be helped by an agency of the UNO to
remove confusion between the sounds of letters R and
L. The logic behind the Chinese phonetics is a
national secret of theirs jealously guarded like the
identity of factories making fake products with famous
designer labels. Dong Ping, Jing Zhang and Ding Dang
are the names that can only be of oriental origin. It
would be easier for all the other ethnicities if the
Asians were simply called Lee.
Everyone knows that the Asians with regular European
names are always Filipinas.
French never immigrate to USA and if a name sounds
like one then either it's a mulatto out of Louisiana
or an effort of a black mother to give her offspring a
Afro-Americans' struggle of the 60s era is evident
from the peculiar names they carry. Shaquile, Fatima
and Alia are just three examples.
The Caribbean give away their origin through the
sing-song accent despite having regular Christian
names. One can easily confuse the name of a freshly
arrived African with basketball star Dikembe Mutumbo.
Jews typically have a precious commodity in their name
(Gold, Silver, Diamond, Ruby), which doesn't help to
remove their Shylock stereotyping.
Most Russians I met have wives named Olga. Perhaps
during Communism they had to start rationing out names
as well. As for Natalyas and Irinas, they are mail
order brides hoodwinked by plumbers and janitors from
the Mid-West into believing them that every American
works for Microsoft.
The Germans and Japanese had to give up names like
Schremp, Kohl, Matsui, and Takayoshi during the 2nd
World War for reasons historians can explain better.
The Italians are much easier to tell from their Bronx
accent. Their names invariably end with letters
‘I’ or ‘C’ (which is meant to sound like
CH)—Gucci is one example. I always pronounced it
like ‘Gucki’ till my daughter, who is into
fashions, corrected me.
Greeks, you cannot tell for sure until you taste a
sandwich at the deli. Some of them have been clever
enough to change names like Papadapolous to Papas, or
an even easier contortion to sound like an Anglo-Saxon
All Americans are not equal. People of all origins are
hyphenated Americans, except of course, the English.
If a newly arrived Brit sounds like a London cabby
then his next generation is going to do no better than
the descendents of any other immigrant family.
however, he speaks through tightly clenched teeth, as
if shivering with cold or just back from the dentist,
then you can safely bet that his great grand children
are going to head large corporations. Many of them may
even become presidents of the country provided they
are Protestants by sect of the faith.
Copyright Sarwar Sukhera