From ‘Hello, my name is Abcde’, 6 March 2016, article by Antika Varma, Sunday Times
When 24-year-old Rachel Siu was looking for a name for her son, she went to Greek mythology for inspiration, searching through names of gods and emperors for something “bold and different”.
The mass communications student’s online search led her to the Greek god of flowers, Dianthus, whose spelling she modified to Dyanthus for a twist. She, her husband and son currently live in Perth, where she is studying.
The name is supposed to be pronounced Dee-an-thus.
…Drawing inspiration from diverse sources such as the hit HBO fantasy series Game Of Thrones and popular celebrities, and freely mixing up the spelling to create tongue-twisting, phonetics- defying new words, these parents want a name that no other kid would share in the playground.
So goodbye to John and Jane, and hello to Matz, Ckash, Zoen, Zeremy and Abcde (pronounced Ab-si-dee) – which are not typographical errors, but the tricky names that Ms Sherlyn Chan, 28, a teacher at enrichment centre The Learning Lab, has encountered in her young students.
Dear Mum and Dad,
Glad we caught up over Chinese New Year. Ben already misses his grandparents. Trust you two to have the experience and wits to manage a 2 year old monster.
It’s been great here in Perth since I took up the new job posting. Boss is awesome and the colleagues are more than what any foreigner can ask for. But there’s something I couldn’t bear to tell you over the holidays. Mum cried the moment she saw us come out of the arrival hall, so I held back. I suppose this letter would do.
No I don’t have cancer.
I decided to legally change my name.
I know you two were inspired by both Star Wars and Game of Thrones when you had me. Giving kids an unusual name was the ‘in’ thing then. I remember asking you as a kid what it meant and you said ‘golden child of summer radiance’ in some fantasy fiction tongue, that it reminded you guys of your first picnic date at Marina Bay. It probably didn’t occur to you that not everyone binge reads Lord of the Rings.
Pronunciation was just one of the problems. In primary school there were at least 3 variations, and even the English teacher was stumped. She confessed to me that she tried to Google it but failed. Since then, I was that special kid with a weird name, who grew up holding up Starbucks queues because no one at the counter knew how to write on the cups. When I told them there’s a double consonant in there, they gave a pained expression, as if I just told them to write out Pi to 10 decimal places.
But the real killer was the jokes. I had already switched to my dialect name when introducing myself to new people, but I couldn’t escape when I had to show people my ID. When I got caught illegally parking, the LTA officer shot me a look and backed away ever so slightly. My former boss let it rip at the New Year office party, and everyone was laughing, slapping their thighs because they wouldn’t dare tell him how offensive it was. I couldn’t take it anymore.
So I moved on.
It’s probably not your fault that people make fun of my name. It just happened to be a fatal coincidence. I should be thankful I didn’t get something slightly worse. I’m glad it’s not Ckash, Abcde, wxyz, Antron, LITTLE or BOULDER. I mean, I would have settled for Tan Ah Kow anytime, rather than sound like a gangsta rapper, the sides of a parallelogram, an unflaterring adjective, a megalomaniac evil robot from the Avengers, or a large rock. Though I have to admit it was a conversation starter, and partly because of it I have Sarah, and we have Ben.
Still, given the current situation, I thought it was best that I gave myself a name that didn’t remind people of a deadly virus, but was close enough so that you wouldn’t be too upset. I hope you understand.
Your son, Zachary (formerly known as Zykker)