Indonesian Names

Apr 14th, 2009, in Asides, by

Names. How many do Indonesians have?

The Jakarta Post probably started the whole sorry issue of “so and so (or maybe just ‘so’), who like most/many Indonesians goes by only one name, ….”, many others have copied it…..

33 Comments on “Indonesian Names”

  1. diego says:

    thanks for the link to washpost sr. patung,

    just little thing, this is (at least) the third time i read an article that says: “Zulkieflimansyah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name”.

    Dude, this journalist need to stop doing copy-and-paste (i bet, i bet he copied that line from the old article assuming it as an interesting “factoid”, nice enough to fill up the article).

    how many percent of indonesians, really, “goes by one name”?

  2. Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    how many percent of indonesians, really, โ€œgoes by one nameโ€?

    Well, I have 4 names, so you can count me out….

    …and no, its not “Leeloominai Lekatariba Lamina-Tchai EkbatDesebat”
    Just a little factoid. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. diego says:

    caray, i should’ve checked webster dict. before posting. i just learned that:

    The -oid suffix normally imparts the meaning “resembling, having the appearance of” to the words it attaches to.

    so my usage of word “factoid” is actually incorrect (because i intented to say: little interesting fact”).

    sorry, oot. little english class.

  4. diego says:

    ha ha ha…. moved here.

    found something for bashing JP sr. patoeng?

    oopps, wait, who actually despises JP? was it you or ross?

  5. Lairedion says:

    I have also 4 names, although 3 official ones. The first one is a nickname evolved from a wayang character, the second one is a Minahasan name (which is actually my first official name) and the third one is a Javanese name. To make it complete I also have a “marga” family name.

    Only some Sundanese and Javanese have one name. Cannot speak for other “suku bangsa”.

  6. Kiwibali says:

    I basically have 6 names, (Balinese) man its a hassle getting a pasport when they went digital. Had to shorten my name because they arent enough space on it. I had to bring my old pasport (with my full name on it) whenever i travel to explain to the custom officials.

    But yeah never met any Indonesian with just one name.

  7. ISh says:

    I have 5 names… and a marga that I don’t know
    Khaer Ismail Alamsyah Ibrahim Abdullah
    since I’m half arab, the names of my father and my grandpa is considered as my name thus the first two (Khaer Ismail) is my given name, (Alamsyah Ibrahim) is my dad’s name and (abdullah) is my grandpa and yet I have a marga that I still want to find out.

  8. Berlian Biru says:

    But yeah never met any Indonesian with just one name.

    Seriously? I’ve met gazillions and I’m not even Indonesian. My wife has only one name, the former President Suharto had only one name, that’s just off the top of my head.

  9. Kiwibali says:

    yeah Suharto have one name, but i never met anyone personally that only have one name.

    Yeah i heard alot of Indonesian who have one name, but again never met anyone personaly that have one name. Guess i spend to much time in Bali.

  10. Chris says:

    At the time of his death, SBY called him Hj Mohammed Suharto, so maybe he had two. Similarly, Indonesia’s VP Jusuf Kalla is actually Moh. JK. And SBY’s wife now calls herself Kristiani SBY, so maybe marriage can change it for women.

    If taxi drivers are a suitable cross-section of the population, I would say 20% of Indonesians have one name – are most single-named people Javanese?

  11. Berlian Biru says:

    Pak Harto adopted “Mohammed” after doing the Haj (thus Haji Mohammed, or HM as you’ll often see before someone’s name) which is customary, my missus who has only one name is Sundanese.

  12. diego says:

    Sundanese are supposed to have at least two names, like:

    – Deden Sudeden
    – Cecep Gumacep
    – Kokom Kerokom

    :d No offense.

  13. Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Tn. Diego, Yth:

    Sundanese are supposed to have at least two names, like:

    Ego Diego (?)


  14. Farah says:

    …errrhhh….had more than one name…

    My family call me with different name (not from my real name, totally different), some of friend call me with different one, my english and biology teacher have other name for me too…

    Its more because the language..and habits… T.T my name sometimes mistaken with boys name… once my bf get suspicious and ask “who is this ****, why his name written on your book?” ….uuuhhhhhhhh !!! ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

  15. Berlian Biru says:

    “Sundanese are supposed to have at least two names”

    ‘Supposed’ by whom?

  16. Indogrenade says:

    I had two friends, back in SD, theyre both sunda…a girl and a boy..the boy named Indra Saputra, the girl was named Indri Saputri…theyr’e cousins, they were born a month apart.
    I’m not joking.

  17. Tracie says:

    I am an American and I have three legal names, first, middle and last. Most all of us Americans have three or more names.

    I don’t understand the fuss over how many names. As long as we get along with each other and can communicate, what does it matter how many names the person we are talking to has?

  18. Diablo says:

    Sundanese are supposed to have at least two names,
    and i guess your name is diego subego’

  19. rima says:

    Most Indonesians have more than one names although not all have family names. My father is from Aceh, and like most people from Sumatra, I have a family name. I only use my first name and my father’s last name but my full name consists of a first name, middle name and my family name is actually my father’s first and family name.
    My mother’s family is a West Javanese ‘ningrat’ (royal) family, they have also a family name.

    Some Indonesians don’t have family names but have two or three given names, like “Merry Octaviani” (Octaviani is NOT her family name) or “Bella Saphira” or “Bambang Sentosa” etc.

    Most of those with only one names that I have encountered are Javanese from little villages. For as long as I can remember all of our family’s domestic helpers only have one name, like Sumarni, Sumarno, Suwatini, Supandi, Sujiah, Ati, Ani, Sobrandi etc.

    Most Javanese and west Javanese from the higher class have family names, especially those who are from the royal family. Some examples of family names from Java that I know Kartasasmita, Sastrowardoyo, Kusumaatmadja, Sosroningrat, Wiratanakusumah etc.

  20. indonesiabraveheart says:

    hey guys, what about fellow Tionghoanese (well, I’m one of them anyway …) ???

    I knew one of my friend … he and his parents changed his indonesian name legally to his chinese name just right after Gus Dur brought a new breeze to this nation 10 years ago …

  21. indonesiabraveheart says:

    Well, I have one as well as my friend … but for true … no one except my family knows it ๐Ÿ˜€ and I think my indonesia first name and surname is still as good as my chinese name …

  22. Astrajingga says:

    I think when peoples say that Indonesian only have one name they mean that most Indonesian has no middle name. Because, formally, or legally, I think Indonesian name is ‘first (or the only) name’ + ‘middle name, if you have’ + ‘your father’s last (or the only) name.’ That’s how I got my ‘official’ name. In my birth certificate (akta kelahiran) my name is written only as ‘Astrajingga’ while my father’s name on birth certificate is Dawala.

    When my teacher write my name for my SD diploma, she wrote it as: Astrajingga Dawala, the official name that later was printed on my KTP and passport.

    So, that was how marga Dawala created. My daughter’s name on birth certificate is Srikandi, but even her kindergarten diploma says that her name is Srikandi Dawala.

  23. Astrajingga says:

    Tracie, when I work with American and German research company, those American and German wants that every person I interviewed has at least two names. They felt that quoting–or putting subtitle on the film for–a person with only two names will make their works look amateurish; even worse it will make their informants are not credible enough to speak.

    I think that is why knowing how many names a person has important.

    By the way, I didn’t choose the interviewees/informants by looking at how many names they have, I just simply asked what his/her father’s name is.

  24. Odinius says:

    Diego said:

    Sundanese are supposed to have at least two names, like:

    – Deden Sudeden
    – Cecep Gumacep
    – Kokom Kerokom

    :d No offense.

    Um…how do you know my brother-in-law’s family, eh?

  25. Ashlee says:

    I notice that used a lot on stories from wire services (like Reuters, AFP, etc) because they are often meant for a foreign audience, so they are making it clear that there hasn’t been an omission during the editing by mentioning that. Otherwise some crazy foreign desk editors from who knows where would be ringing up the Jakarta editorial contact at the bottom of the story and asking why they forgot the guy’s last name.

    So, with wire stories, it’s then up to the individual publication either here or abroad to edit that out or leave it in the story if they are using wire copy. It seems a bit silly to leave it in though when writing for a local audience, IMO.

  26. Zekky says:

    Pak Harto’s first name was Mohammed, no?
    And Bung Karno’s was Achmad?

    Also, I think the higher you stand, the more names you have, like Pak Harto’s aristocratic wife who had many names.

  27. ET says:

    Lairedion said

    Only some Sundanese and Javanese have one name. Cannot speak for other โ€œsuku bangsaโ€.

    The Balinese seem to be the masters in giving multiple names. I’ve never met a Balinese with only one name.

    A Balinese name normally consists of

    – a title referring to caste e.g Anak Agung, Cokorda, Ida Bagus, Dewa, Desak, Gusti etc;
    – eventually a subtitle referring to the main cast title e.g. Ngakan, Jero;
    – a generic name referring to the order of succession in the number of siblings e.g. Wayan or Putu (1st child), Made or Kadek (2nd child), Nyoman or Komang (3rd child) and Ketut (4th child) after which they start all over again;
    – one or two given names referring to a reincarnated ancestor, which is seldom used as such but often becomes abbreviated;
    – the name of the clan (dadya) the family belongs to e.g. Taman Bali, Pasek, Tan Kaur etc.

    However in most cases and for practical purposes only one name is used among relatives and community members. This name is usually the generic succession name or in case of possible confusion a composite abbreviation of some of the former titles and given names e.g. Desak Made becomes Sakde, Ngakan Putu becomes Kantu etc.

    Aduh, pusing.

  28. Chandra says:

    Hi to all,

    Please, I hope that some of you can help.
    I need to know the meaning of Sumarni, as a name.
    I look everywhere but unsuccessfully. some one told me that the meaning is “clear water”, is that right or there is another meaning.
    I’ll be greatfull if someone tell me the real meaning of that name.
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  29. Kevin says:

    I need to know if there is an Indonesian name starting with the letter ‘ H ‘
    and possible the word ‘ sam ‘ in the name as well..
    is there?

  30. Eko says:

    Most one-namers are Javanese…
    … and no offence to them but I always thought one-name is more common among lower classes
    (whereas Javanese aristocrats have many names)

    Also, in the West it’s common to refer to people by full name… many Indonesians ‘use’ one name but on certificate they still have more names.

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