What’s In A Name

Jose (hoh-seh). The ‘J’ is what they call silent, it is replaced with the sound of the letter ‘h’ instead. Both the ‘o’ and the ‘e’ are short, as if you were exhaling. There are no diacritics on any letter as well. This is the normal Filipino pronunciation of my name which has Spanish origins.

I am named after my father. That makes me a junior. The Jr. comes after my first and/or last names, depending on how it is written.

In school, at least in the Philippines, we are normally taught to write our names in this order: First/Given name, Middle initial, Last name. This means my name is written like so – Jose O. Yamut, Jr. The prefix suffix is separated by a comma after my surname. (LOL, I’ve been referring to it as prefix for a while now, didn’t even notice it. Duh!)

However, in forms it is also common to have different fields to enter one’s first, middle and last names only. Nothing for the suffix. If so, either don’t write the affix anywhere in the form, or if it is really required then put it in with my first name. In this case the “Jr.” part should come after Jose, my first name, like so – Yamut / Jose, Jr. / O. This is because “JR.” indicates that I am the 2nd or other Jose in my family.

Probably have some IDs with my name written wrongly, even here in the Philippines when Sr. and Jr. affixes are prevalent, just because many people do not know how to write it in the correct way. It becomes – Yamut Jr. / Jose / O. – the last name now has mutated into something else. This may cause issues, especially in sensitive documents where the slightest variation of a person’s name can make it invalid when compared to the birth certificate.

It is also interesting to note that in the Philippines middle names are not 2nd given names, like in some countries. For example, in other countries a boy has 2 given names: Joseph Robert. His middle name in this case becomes Robert. For a Filipino, however, a middle name (or initial) almost always refers to the mother’s family name before marriage.

I go by the nickname of Jun, usually. But I’ve been called many names by different people. That all boils down to which group or setting I am in.

My siblings prefer to call me Dong. My parents do too though they switch randomly from that to Jun. Legend has it that when I was still learning to speak my first few words as a child, I could not say Jun correctly. They said that I could not pronounce ‘j’ properly so I ended up saying “dun”. it eventually evolved into what is now dong, and that has stuck since then.

In school my classmates would call me Yams. They still call me by that moniker up to this day. The reason is that Filipinos, at least in my birth city and at my school, we default to calling each other by our last names. Don’t ask me why but it is how it is. Naturally, they shortened it into how they call me now. Did I say Pinoys also love to use shortcuts in just about everything?

At work places it is Jun or Yams. At some point it has also become an amalgamation of both – JunYams. This practice is common in the Philippines.

For a long time I was never used to being called by my first name casually. Jose sounded so formal. I remember only my teachers used to call me by first name. It all changed when I lived in Singapore for some time. People could not seem to get the hang of calling me by my nickname. I tried explaining it to my work colleagues and non-Filipino friends, but they’d just give me that weird, funny look.

Interestingly enough in the Lion City, Jose is not a familiar name. Most of the time they would pronounce the modern English ‘j’ and with a long ‘e’ at that, as in like Josie (… and the Pussycats; Ring a bell?). This is by far my least liked and although I won’t get offended or correct you if you didn’t know (unless you asked), my nose might wrinkle whenever I hear it said that way.

For some it was “jos” similar to how you would say the name Josh minus the ‘h’ at the end. A slight variation to that is a slight drawl on the first vowel making my name sound like the expression “oh” with an ‘s’, and the ‘j’ pronounced too (i.e., Jows).

I realized then that Jose has quite a nice ring to it after all from all these mispronunciations. Hah! My favorite yet is José (as in hoe-say) – this sounds way cooler.

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Notice: This article was published on June 13, 2020 and the content above may be out of date.