What’s in a name?

I was in one of the nation’s biggest banks for some banking needs. I have been doing a lot of internet banking that now I hardly go t bank. But, this trip could not be saved.

A young Malay lady (called personal banker to be exact) attended to me. She wanted to seek clarification from her superior when I told her that my previous experience allowed me to do that way. It was quite a while that she came back and almost at her top of her voice, she said, “Tou-kay-neon, is this what you want to do?” (Her body language clearly showed that she was unhappy with me)

Well, I was quite shocked to be called “Tou-kay-neon” in a corporate world. I was in the right attire, professional and smart. I also walked tall with confidence like what a professional lady would show. I expected to be called, “Madam”, or even “Miss”.

“Tou-kay-neon” is for marketplace!

When I related this to a group of friends later, more stories were told. One story was told of a woman who would never buy vegetables from stalls who called her “Ah-Sing” (foochow equivalent to auntie, but infers a lowly educated woman or simply a tea lady or a cleaning lady). We also related how we (40 something) all enjoy being called “Ah Moi” or “Miss” on Sunday morning when we dress in jeans to the market!

Can a name really change a person’s image? Can being called “Ah Sing” really put us in a lowly position? Does that “Ah Moi” really make us younger?

Evelyn O Shih (a writer) loves to be called ‘PoPo’. She was contended to think that she was respected as a grandmother as in Chinese family. She enjoyed her position of dignity until one day when one of her son’s friends asked her, “Is ‘PoPo’ your real name or a nickname?”

Evelyn writes,

I realized that any name or title is neutral. It can’t add respect to a person, rather it is the person who may acquire merits or demerits which become associated with the name. ‘Teacher’, ‘Pastor’, ‘Mother’ or ‘Doctor’ can all be good or bad depending the character of the person who bears the name. You can insist that people address you with a respectable title, but you cannot win their respect with it.

We are all children of God. We call ourselves Christian. Are we giving a good image to this title, Christian?

I always remember these words of Francis Yeoh, CEO YTL –

I thank my Lord Jesus for perfuming YTL’s name once again and I give Him all the glory for this honour.

That was said when Francis Yeoh was being awarded with Malaysia CEO of the year.

A name being perfumed with the fragance of Lord Jesus Himself, what more can we ask for?


2 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Joepsc Says:

    Short of being wilfully slandered, we should not be particularly concerned about how we are addressed…even if we are made to ‘feel’ older or lesser in status..for what we ‘feel’ may not be necessarily right, and the address is not necessarily an insult depending on the caller’s cultural and educational background. Moreover, are we not supposed to be humble, tolerant, forgiving and non-judgemental?

    Ideally, is to avoid specific addresses which denotes age or status…but keep to a general or generic address, such as sir/madam or lady/gentleman.

  2. ylchong Says:

    I don’t mind people calling Desi “mentor” if they pronounce It correctly! I don’t wish it sounding close to ‘mental’ as describing state of affairs Or ‘methol'(ated) ciggie.

    But it’s exhilarating to be a mentee too; being pampered, hopefoolly to being too. To a royal treat-lah, some listeners pretend knot to understand:(

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