When Your Name Is a “Simple Past Tense”

[a mumble]

William Shakespeare, a great poet, said, “What’s in a name?” to illustrate that there is nothing to worry about a name. Name is just a name. In contrary, Bung Karno, The Indonesian first president, loved to play with the meaning inside a name. To him, a name is (almost) everything. Since he paid so much attention to the meaning of a name, Bung Karno even has changed some people’s name (especially woman) because he thought that the previous name might not be philosophically worthy or even might cause something terrible to the owner. Rima Melati is one of the Indonesian artists whose name was changed by Bung Karno. Although it was not so clear, whether he really wanted to bring something lucky to the name’s owner or perhaps it was only a strategy of a professional playboy to attract woman’s attention, with no doubt Bung Karno had his own opinion about a name.

Seemingly, I, personally, have a similar opinion with Bung Karno. A name, apparently, has a quite significant meaning I should pay attention. At least, it was what I think, especially when I was away from home, living in a strange country with a completely different language.

One day, an Australian Taxation Office (ATO) officer called me in accordance with my Tax File Number (TFN) application. She just wanted to confirm that my name is really “I Made Andi Arsana”. She was confused, firstly because she could not define my first name and last name (as there are too many words in it). Secondly she got confused because there is only one letter in the first name, “I”. Further more, she nearly could not believe when realizing that my name is a “simple past tense”, which means, “I created Andi Arsana” (if so, apparently, it is only my father or mother who MAY call my full name). A quite long conversation was then taken place because I had to explain that the first word, “I” indicates that I am a man, “Made” means I am the second child in a family and “Andi Arsana” is actually my name. Even though she said she understood, I could feel that she thought it was so funny to her.

Another funny experience was what I call a ‘name tragedy’. It was when I registered to Energy Australia for electricity connection via the internet. An officer also called me ‘just’ to confirm that I was a consumer candidate who really exists. She said, (after a long conversation and we got more casual) “It doesn’t sound like a real name when I realized that your name is I Made Andi Arsana. I am afraid that you are somebody who’s just filled the electronic form on the internet without any serious purpose” 🙂 Yes, it was another trouble for having a non-standard name, I think.

If we look to several name of music groupz, for instance, it is actually not new for westerner using a complete sentence as a name. “Michael Learns to Rock”, which is actually a simple present tense, is one of them. It might be a bit strange or at least funny if Indonesian music groups name their group as “Paijo Belajar Ngerock” (Paijo learns to rock –if you are Indonesian, you might find it is funny–).

In addition, the language used in a name also contributes significant impression. When a Balinese boys band named its group as “Superman Is Dead”, which is actually also a simple present tense, nobody thinks it is funny. In contrary, it is considered funky and even great. Perhaps because English is used in the name 🙂

Therefore, if the name could cause a trouble and even danger, I should re-consider my plan to name our future son “I Made Yuin Sydney” 🙂

Sydney, March 6, 2004


Author: Andi Arsana

I am a lecturer and a full-time student of the universe

8 thoughts on “When Your Name Is a “Simple Past Tense””

  1. hehehe… I was study English three month, and your article the funniest article I had read (maybe because it is interesting article so is so fun to understanding) 🙂

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