What’s in a name? For Malaysian people, a lot. When you next talk to your Malaysian friend, try asking them about their name and its origins. There is probably a deep seated meaning and history behind their name but unfortunately, you’ll never find out what it is because Malaysian people adopt new monikers or alter their names as soon as they develop social awareness.
Malaysian people are aware that their names are not just a string of alphabets thrown together. Names reflect their personalities and background. Therefore they take great steps to alter their names to convey the sort of persona they desire. For some Malaysian people who were given more conservative and ethnically influenced names, it is a good idea to shorten them or perhaps add an English name. For instance; a name like Katijah could be shortened to "Kat" or maybe even “K”. Another example would be someone with the name Chong Ah Kow repackaging himself as Engelbert Chong to project maturity and sophistication.
For some Malaysian people who lack imagination, they simply form an acronym with their initials; Palanivel Janarthanan would henceforth be known as “PJ”. There are also some who deem their names not rexotic or unique enough and thus find solace in names such as Nanako or Ferrari. Once in awhile, you might encounter a Malaysian with a name like Sarah Dominique Lee. Notice that it contains only an ambiguous surname, a middle name and betrays no sign of the ethnicity. This is a well planned and foresightful method to naming children. A Malaysian person with this form of name at birth will have a head start in life.
The subtle changes made to their names ensure the Malaysian person’s desired personality is effectively communicated (pronunciation and spelling is arbitrary). However, given the inherent Malaysian need to one-up others, many have begun resorting to more extreme measures, resulting in names that have yet to appear on any birth certificate in history (Million, Celestial, Che Gustafa, Zique, Rikosama, Xobile!).
If you come across such colorful Malaysians, you must first smile and nod in quiet appreciation of their creativity in coining such a semantic symphony. Next, ask them what it means. Their answer is likely to be trifle but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you gave them a chance to talk about themselves which will sufficiently endear you to them. To seal the deal, stare admiringly at them and say, "Whoa. That is so deep."