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 is separated by a comma after my surname.

However, in forms it is also common to have different fields to enter one’s first, middle and last names. Usually, the last name comes first, followed by the given name, then the middle name/initial. In this case the “Jr” part would come after Jose, my first name, like so – Yamut, Jose Jr., O. It is because Jr. indicates that I am the 2nd Jose in my family.

Probably have a lot of IDs with my name written wrongly just because many people do not know how to write it in the correct way. This causes issues, especially in sensitive documents where the slightest variation of a person’s name can make it invalid.

It is also interesting to note that in the Philippines middle names are not 2nd 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. 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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Notice: This article was published on June 13, 2020 and the content above may be out of date.