Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Lesson on Culture: Malu Names, part 1

Bitch, please! thinks it will be interesting to start a series of "lessons" where we explore cultural nuances not just for our own entertainment, but for the good of the entire population.

Some of you may know an Indian person whose name sounds like two first names or whose moniker is pretty much an adjective (see list below). For all you non-malus (short form for Malayalee people from Kerala, India—a pretty sweet place. You should check it out), I just want to elaborate on a particular phenomena of naming children after adjectives or made-up adjectives.

i.e. Blessy, Gifty, Shiney, Happy, Godly, Jolly, Boney, Lovely and soo much more!

Taking these names seriously can be quite disconcerting for the layperson (a person who is not familiar with Malu behavior/traditions). Imagine a teacher looking at a roll sheet and seeing names such as Thomas John or Godly Philip...they not only won’t be able to figure out where that person originated from but they couldn't even tell what their parents were high on when they decided to procreate. Sure, it’s easy to spot out the children of hippies. They have names like River and Liberty and Moon. Malu parents just sound like a bunch of clergy on happy pills.

I think I may have a partial explanation. Malu people have quite flashy names. In fact we just love flashy things in general: like 22K (14k is for pansies) necklaces and shiny, gold plated Seiko wristwatches. We love adorning our sons’ rooms with floral pink bedsheets; We love braiding our hair only to unbraid it and tease it so that it is more voluminous and frizzy; We love decking out our living rooms with Victorian style sofas (with plastic protective covering). Calling your daughter Shiney seems only natural, no?

When Malu parents discovered the English language, they had a field day. It’s kind of like when Americans found out about yoga or sushi...they went nuts and adopted it into their everyday lives. In our case, Malu parents found words...nouns or adjectives that they thought sounded cool and added Y’s to them. Being the superstitious people they are, these parents probably hoped that their children would assume their names as character traits. Goodness, imagine the pressure that a guy name Godly faces every day.

So the next time you meet an Indian man named Jose (pronounced JOESS) or are introduced to an ugly lady named Lovely, don’t be quick to judge. It isn’t necessarily their fault that they decided to keep their names and not change it the first moment they could. Sure we may show them some pity once in a while or snicker behind their backs. But to all you Boneys and Jollys and Godlys out there, I just wanted to say that we at Bitch, Please! understand.


1 comment:

Lijo said...


Also, usually only Malu girls have names that end in Y.