Friday, May 21, 2010

What's In A Name? -gfh

We are finding names interesting here in South Africa. First of all, the youth are very respectful and call us "Mam & Sir". There are kids playing around our flat often when we come home and they always say "How are you MamnSir?" just like it is one word. Then a surprise is how we are called Momma and Daddy. And again they run the two words together like "mommadaddy" One day one of the missionaries was talking about a woman in his area and referred to her as "a black Momma". I thought that was disrespectful at the time and now I realize that is just a term that is used by everyone. I hear all the time from another adult talking to me "yes,momma" or "sure, momma" etc.
The given names are beautiful. In fact, sometimes the name is "Beautiful". Other examples are names of people we've met such as: Precious,Bright,Pride,Delight,Witness, Rejoice,Innocent, Memory, Happiness, Progress, Justice, Blessing, Gift,knowledge, and a favorite, Hilarious. And the name of a referral who called in to the office was Lovers. Okay.
One of our elders name was changed and misspelled when his ID papers were filled out by someone else. The spelling of both his given and his surnames were misspelled. His surname is no longer spelled the same way as his fathers and his middle name was completely changed. His middle name is Andrews and it was changed to Anyway. Now the sad thing is that he has to go by these name changes because they are on his ID card. Maybe someday he'll be able to correct them. Who knows.
We've also had a challenge with the missionaries going by a different name than their surname. We'll get the application from Salt Lake with one surname and then when they arrive and the name tag has been delivered we find that they want to go by a different name...maybe their given name or middle name.

Names have been an interesting part of our South Africa experience so far and I haven't even mentioned the problem we have pronoucing them correctly! One of our missionary names is "Randriampamonjisoa". Give it a try.


  1. Very interesting! So are the missionaries allowed to have a different name on their name plaque other than their given surname? I know on my mission the Elders had one made for me that said Hermana Pescado. Still technically my name but I only wore it to ward or mission functions never out tracting.

  2. Yes, because sometimes they actually go by the different name. It isn't that they just get to pick a fun name that they like better. When the recommendation papers come from SLC we just assume that they go by the surname. I've had to change several files once the missionary arrives and the name is clarified. And then often we have asked "Now which name is that Elder going by?" and double check the records.

  3. I know where you missionary with the long name comes from Madagascar, right? We have elder Zafimananjara. Crazy! The names drive me nuts as I do recommendations for baptism and badges. It's still a complete mystery to me. I have a way to put a new name on a badge with a little tape and have changed many after a lo tof whining. SO, we get it!