Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Amazing but true: From the Bao Linh Tinh

25-year old man admits he doesn’t know his own father’s name

Nguyen Hoang Anh didn’t realise he had never known his own father’s name until questioned by his girlfriend’s parents, when visiting their house for the first time.
“At first I though my mind had gone blank,” said the 25-year old computer engineer. “You know, when a teacher asks you a question in front of the whole class and you just freeze, even though you know that you know the answer.”

But Hoang Anh didn’t know. A man he has called ‘bo’ (father) all his life, of course, has a name, but nobody ever told their son and he never heard anyone say it out loud.
“It’s normal, you just say ‘bo oi’ when you talk to him and then his friends come around and call him ‘anh’ (brother) or the woman with the electricity bill says, ‘Chu Nha’ (man of the house) or his older sister’s kids call him ‘cau’ (young uncle),” said Anh sheepishly. “It’s not as if he’s famous, he’s just a normal man leading a simple life. He’s ‘bo thoi’ in my house. Even my mother calls him that.”

His father, who is in actual fact named Nguyen Duc Manh, reportedly took umbrage not to the fact that his son didn’t know his name but that Anh knew his mother’s.

“I guess I just saw it on her ID card one day,” said Anh of the woman who is known as ‘me’ (mother) to him and his younger sister, Bich Ngoc. “But even that seems weird. She doesn’t come across as a woman who should be called Duyen. She’s a bit of a battleaxe.”

But Hoang Anh isn’t getting too worked up about it.
“It’s meaningless anyway, to cheer my father up I started calling him Hung aound the house and he didn’t even notice me," laughed Anh. "In fact, I think he might have forgotten his own name."


More on pronouns here in the Archives

2 comments:

TuAnh said...

Common situation in Vietnam, and probably in lots other places in the world. Hong Anh tried to get her son to call her and Viet Anh by name, but guess where it ends up. Moc is calling himself "chau" instead of "con" when talking to them. Complicated, say I.

And also, check spelling, and check story's fact. Is the father's name Hung or Manh?

Hoang Viet Anh said...

I never know my grandam's name until the age of 10. Accidentally reading my "household registry book" (Ho Khau), I learned that there are someone named "Nguyen Thi Nhuy" in our house.

In a quest to discover who is the stranger, raising constant queries with my frustrated parent and uncles, we (my cousin and me) came to a conclusion that that my grandma have 4 names:

1. Mrs. Hong (the name after my granddad's name), the one most adult know.

2. Grandmam or "ba noi": because my dad was her son

3. Grandmam* or "ba ngoai": because my cousin's mum was her daughter

4. Mrs. Nhuy as her real name, the one nobody know, even for some of my uncles.

Complicated huh?

And there was also a common tradition to call father / mother after their first son. So probably I still missing my grandma's 5th name