How Important Is Your Name?

Imagine if I don’t have a name, how would you address me, ‘Yo! You over there!’ obviously there’s no need to do that because I’ve many, at least 4 names that I’ve known of (might be more that people refer to me by, but we won’t go there) One of my readers made a comment on my blog and he said, ‘Nye, who ever you are…’ I was confused at first by his comment, obviously I’m a Laotian blogger and my blog is Nye, but realized that he must have came from, and read my posting as Ginger. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t keep my name as just Nye, why make it confusing for others, confusing for myself as well, honestly I don’t have an answer to that, might be on the spur of the moment types of decision, jealous of someone’s cool name. My real name is a boy’s name, mainly because my dad is Chinese and wanted sons, so he named my sisters and I, boys’ name, more like naming us before we were born. I’ve an opportunity to change it when I neutralized to become an American citizen, but never did and might be because it’s very unique and given to me by my parents, back when I was in school, if the teacher looked at a name that they couldn’t pronounce, I can pretty much bet that it’s my name.

I read once that back in the olden days, Lao and Thai only have one syllable first name, then the officials wanted people to have 2 syllables first name. One professor in Thailand was named Var, and then his mom at the time didn’t know what to change it to, so she changed his name to PraVar, which he kept it until this day. When he got older, realized that it was a female name, even looked up in the phone directory and sure enough there were several, and all were females. He thought about changing it, numerous times, but couldn’t come up with any other name. He is a professor at a local university, and many of his students wrote his name as PaVah (meaning shocking), he jumped when he saw that, who in the world would name their children that, of course gave a long lecture about names to his students, make sure that they read what they wrote down. I think it might be time for him to change his name, I think I would if that’s me.

Just like Laotian last name, back then my dad said that we didn’t have any, and then the officials came out and said that we needed one. For many Lao country folks that lacked education, what clever last name could they possibly come up with? Their solution, simple, they came up with Dong, Pah, Na (forest and rice patty field, etc.), that’s all they’d see, but then it was too short, so they added Pheung in front of it, meaning ‘relying on’, so the majority of the people from that region have the last name of PheungDong, PheungPah, PheungNa…are you one of them, so country I would say, but that’s their name.

I ran into an old friend back in September of last year, while visiting my sisters in NYC. His mom owns a restaurant in Chinatown, so I stopped by to see how he’s doing. I asked his mom if I could see Hi, strange name you’d say, he hated it with a passion because we’d tease him and always calling him, ‘Hi Hi’. He was surprised to see me, it’s been over 12 years since I last saw him, and he didn’t change by much. I went on and said ‘Hi Hi…’ he stopped me in mid sentence and said ‘It’s John now’, what? Since when? Needless to say, I felt like I was talking to a stranger, this was the boy next door that I grew up with, and when we parted, I had to make myself to say ‘Bye John’.

I later on went to a Thai Restaurant to meet 3 Chinese friends that I grew up with, they also didn’t change by much. One of my friends named Lily, also decided to change her name, its Kasie now…I remember receiving her e-mail to confirm the date of my arrival, but never made the connection that it was Lily. She asked me, ‘What’s your name now?’ I thought it’s rather funny when she asked me that, It’s still the same name I’m afraid; is that okay?

What about you, do you like your name? Why did you choose certain pen name when you write? Care to share?


  1. Ginger, I don’t know what to call you either. In the past year, I keep have your name is my mind as Nye Noona. I have been reading your blog as Nye Noona may be… a few years. I don’t remember exactly how many years!
    Any way. I agree with you about how we disguise our self on the web. I think when we choose the name, it is representing our inner self, how we reflex it out to other to get the idea about who we are.
    I have 5-6 names my self on the web.

    This comment is to “thank you very much” for sharing and doing such a good job about the Lao culture vs. Western culture. Mainly is about Laos and S.E. Asia. I always share your website to American and other ppl. who wants to know about Lao’s culture.
    My writing skill still needs to improve in grammar and vocabulary. I love to read, especially your blog. I am signed up with Blogger for long time, but I don’t have enough time to really write or create any subject yet. I just signed up then I can read about many ppl. blog.
    Any way, I just collect you tube’ videos and share with others. So, please stop by “1laochild” since I cannot express my self how I feel in writing, I used videos I have collecting to share my feeling with myself and others.

    Thank you, for reading on this long comment. It should be personal message more than a comment. But as I say earlier that I read your wordpress quite long and thinking that I want to let you know that your site is very useful and benefit me a lot…

    Keep posting more good subject about Laos, Laotian, and its culture.
    Hug Paeng and proud of you.

    • Hi 1laochild, thanks for stopping by, and your kind words, it means a lot to me.

      This is a very old post, long also, I do write a lot, and most of the time I don’t even know who all is reading, but one person that reads my blog all the time is my oldest sister, so I always write for her, she is the one that came up with this name. I’ve been blogging for 3.5 years now, I’ve learned a lot and it has been very rewarding thus far. I’m using Nye now, won’t be commenting or writing as Ginger anymore, sort of go back to my original pen name, but you’re welcome to call me Ginger.

      If you had already sign up to blog, I think it won’t hurt to do so, the way we express ourselves doesn’t have to be perfect, such as in grammar and vocabulary, because most of us are not perfect, it’s what we want to share that is more important, most of us will over look the imperfection and as you blog, you’ll learn to improve your grammar and vocabulary that way, I know that’s how it is for me, I learn as I blog.

      Thanks again for your comment, and it’s good to hear from you.

  2. Wow p’Nye, I came across this as I’ve seen you commented. I have never knew what to call you either since I know that “Noona” in Korean is like Phi or Euy in Thai or Laotian, but refers to an older sister for the males to call. So, I just figured I would call you p’Nye.

    I kind of didn’t like my name as I was growing up since it was “Julie Anne” I would shorten it and just went with “Julie”, but as I grew older I became fond of it. It was unique and it suited me very well. “Julie” would always sometime hard for my Thai friends to say so I would have them call me “Jey” which was short for “Jey-Li” which was a combination of the first letter of Julie and “Li” being the last few.

    I still choose “Julie” since it’s typical and everyone who is familiar with the blog knows who I am. There are a few hand load of people also that call me “Jey or Jey-Li.” It was easier for my Thai and Korean friends to say.

    • Julie, I started out posting comments at forum prior to writing blog and it was Nye. Then when I decided to write blog, my oldest sister thought it’d be good to call it Nye Noona; Nye pronounced ‘nine’ means mister or boss in Lao or Thai, and Noona means mouse, so it’s Mr. Mousey, a bit old fashion and sounds like a mouse in a rice paddy field, but since I’m a blogger, I think of it as a computer mouse. My intention was to write like a guy but it never did worked out.

      I recall that I used to call you Jey at your other blog and I was wondering if it’s a boy’s name, it sounds like it. But when you write for Dirtii Laundry, you use Julie as your pen name, so it’s Julie ever since. I think to me it’s not important of what you use as long as you stay true to yourself, but most if not all want to know your real name. I think people are curious creatures, we want to know everything.

  3. Pardon the intrusion, but this brings to mind some lines:

    O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet

    Nye, I agree totally with ‘it’s not important of what you use as long as you stay true to yourself.’ I can see that in you and that’s why people like reading and commenting on your blog. Thanks for being a wonderful friend:))

    • PaNoy, thanks. I think my blog has evolved some, I’m writing more for friends and family now. It’s nice to hear comments from readers, at least I know that I’m not blogging or talking to myself, I did that the first year or so.

  4. I think that’s true p’Nye .. that if you stay true to yourself then everything will be ok. I think I might have to go back to writing my blog since I will be leaving at the end of August and living in Seoul and will travel around Asia.

    LOL! I can’t believe you thought I was a guy.. 555+ talok dee. 😛

    • Julie, that sounds exciting, the best way to keep in touch with families and friends is blogging, and I guess Facebook also work as well, but since I don’t have a FB, I hope you do blog. Will you continue to write for DL?

      When you first Linked me, I thought who is this person, sounds like a boy but writes like a girl. Lol.

  5. p’Nye, I think I will try to blog again when I get there (I’m not sure yet because I kind of want to keep things private also) and of course I will still write for DL. I think since I’m over in the Asian regions it will be easier to update with all the latest and do some stalking adventures for DL.. lol

    Ah, you should get facebook na. I’m like that I had everyone get facebook because at times I just post pictures up and don’t say anything much.. procrastination is my best asset.. lol

    • Julie, I’m not a fan of social network sites, I’m afraid that I might like it and get hooked, then I’d be in big trouble, I wouldn’t have time to blog anymore, most that have myspace or facebook don’t update their blog on a regular basis.

      I’m happy for you that you’ll get to go live in Korea, it has been your dream I remembered. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in Asia, but I don’t think I would ever find out.

  6. Awwwwwww p’Nye! Just for you na, I will continue blogging about my daily adventures in Korea & Asia. I’ve always wanted to travel and since I’m done with school and the opportunity is open I’m taking it.

    At first the social networking sites get’s addictive, but later on you learn to control yourself.. lol

    • Julie, I’d not be any good with social networking sites, I think I’ll stick with blogging. I still have the link to your personal blog and looking forward to reading about your adventures, thanks.

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