What’s In A Name

Jose (hoh-seh). The ‘J’ is what they call silent, yet funnily enough, 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. prefix comes after my first and last names.

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. It sounded so formal. Like only my teachers would call me that. It all changed when I in lived in Singapore for some time. People could not seem to get the hang of calling me by my chosen primary 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 it as “josie”, with a long ‘e’. For some it was “jos” like the name Josh. I realized then that Jose has quite a nice ring to it after all from all these mispronunciations. Hah! My favorite yet is that although my given name is not spelled with a diacritic – as in José – for some they end up pronouncing it as if it were that way.

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