This has been bugging me for quite some time now, and this month I’m going to vent about it. What is up with the anglicizing of our Indian names? In other words, why are our Indian names being shortened and abbreviated by non-Indians…just because they can’t make the effort to pronounce it?
We call Jennifer, Jennifer – not “Jen” or “Jenni”, unless of course it’s an accepted nickname by that person. And we call Daylen just that. Not “Dee” or “Day”.
So – just because some Indian names are a bit “difficult to pronounce” is it correct that a new version be given? Of course not! I can’t begin to tell you how many times my name has been mispronounced. For goodness sakes, you say it the way it’s spelt – Sheetal. Shee-till. Some versions of my name include Sheetaaarl. I even remember hearing Shantal once. But – most of my friends have given up and now resort to calling me Sheets. It’s become so common that most people, even my family calls me that too. I suppose it’s shorter than Sheetal and doesn’t require much effort.
My brother, Darmesh, has had a couple of variations of his name. At school, he was known as Daaarm-esh or Daaarm. It stuck so much that sometimes I find myself calling him that too. But now, his friends have resorted to calling him by his DJ name, “Damage” Even my parents’ names have been so anglicized over the years by family friends that it’s actually laughable!
So is it effort to say Kalapana? Of course! That’s why they’d rather say Kay or Kal. And Sameer becomes Sam. It’s like when you’re talking about Sameer to someone, they have no idea who you’re talking about.
But say Sam, and everyone knows who he is! For all I care, Sam can be short for Samantha!
This is all I’m saying: We say Sebastian and Priscilla. So why can’t we say Urmila, without getting our tongues twisted around it?
I’m not saying that nicknames are wrong. They’re endearing. But what grates on my nerves is when people shorten Indian names for pure convenience.
But even Indian people are anglicizing their own names for convenience. Harish may change his name to Harry. After all, when dealing in business, he can save the time when he introduces himself to people and they say, “Can you repeat that?” If “Harish” stays, I bet it will become Hareeeesh.
My friend, Nethan is South African-born, now living in
And then there’s my friend Asmita. Asmita – what a lovely name. Pity people don’t appreciate its beauty, because she has become “As-meeee-taah”. It’s the same thing with another friend of mine, Shakeela, whose name has been converted to “Sha-keeee-lah”. I have even heard of a baby’s parents wanting to call him Rohan, but changed the spelling to “Rohern”, just so that people don’t get into the habit of calling him “Ro-han”
When people can’t pronounce my name or don’t even make an effort, I just find it a sign of disrespect. Of course, this is my opinion which I am entitled to it. Readers, I’m interested to know if you go through the same thing. Is your name anglicized by non-Indian speakers too?