Monday, June 19, 2006

Last Name First, Last Name Last

The reversed order of names in some Asian countries can confuse slow-witted Westerners. An actress and model from Singapore was born Fann Woon Fong—her surname being Fann—and she resisted early in her career pressure to use a "Christian" name that Western clients could more easily remember. That changed when she was 18, and a magazine misspelled her name as "Fann Wong."

She stormed home and threw the offending magazine on the table to show her mother. Before she could lament, her mother, Wong Siew Toy, saw the name and said delightedly: “Woon Fong, it is so sweet of you to do this! I am so happy you went to such lengths for me.”

“I didn’t know what Mum was talking about (at first),” says Fann Wong with a grin. “Then it dawned on me that Fann is Dad’s surname and Wong is Mum’s surname. Of course, I was smart enough to keep quiet and not tell her how annoyed I was over that name. ‘Fann Wong’ made her so happy, so I decided to use it from that day onwards. It was years later before she found out, ha ha!” [Link]


"The reversed order of names"...
If I read - for example - the phone book of ANY country, the FAMILY name stands first, then the other part of the names. For example, John Fitzgerald Kennedy appears as
"Kennedy, John F."
The "last" name as first, the "middle" name as last/third etc. Isn't this contradictory? Isn'the FIRST always FIRST?
In Hungary, (not an Asian country, search it on the world map!) the FAMILY name stands BEFORE the given name, and we never call it first.
Every nation/country has the right to arrange the names - as they want.
Which sequence is the reversed? I think if producing an alphabetical listing one should rearrange the name, THIS IS the reversed order.

What about date?
2006-06-19 or 19-06-2006 or 06-19-2006 (today)?
If we want to sort dates, in the second and third version above we should rearrange, then sort then arrange back for writing. Is it logical? Is it easy?

What is the meaning of the "middle" name? Where does it point?
In Russian, the additional (middle) name is the father's name. (Nikita Sergeyevitch Krutshchow means Nikita from the family Krutshch, whose father is/was called Sergey).
In the Mormon Church there are no leader without middle name. (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young wouldn't be leader today)!
The new German apostle had no middle name. (In Germany/Deutschland it is not a custom/habit/praktice). After three months it was created.

Ludwig from Hungary (look for it in Europe, Bush W., George visits us tomorrow)


"Isn't the FIRST always FIRST?"

That's the problem with distinguishing "first" from "last" names instead of "given names" from "surnames." Plenty of early genealogy programs fell into the trap of always assuming that the first name entered was the given name.

When I referred to the "reversed order of names in some Asian countries," I was not suggesting that this practice is found only in Asian countries, and I was not suggesting that the practice is in any way wrong. The name order is reversed from what is customary in America--home to the largest portion of my readership.

And when I referred to "slow-witted Westerners," I did not mean Hungarians, who I'm confident would feel quite at home at any Singaporean modeling agency. I meant, of course, those Americans who require their Asian film stars to have "proper first names."

Yours truly,

Dunham, Christopher

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