「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


What’s in a name?

By Samantha Loong


Before we’re even born, our potential names are discussed, debated or taken in for expert consultation. In countries like China and Japan, even the number of strokes in a name is carefully considered. In countries like New Zealand, certain names — like Lord and Queen — are banned from use.

Because your name makes up an essential part of your identity, it’s no wonder self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie said that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound to their ear. Air New Zealand understands this and has made the experience of being cramped with a bunch of anonymous others much more personal: Passengers flying on some Air New Zealand flights can expect to see their name on their entertainment screens preceded with a friendly “Kia ora” greeting from the moment they sit down.

Although this simple greeting is electronically generated, it shows that the carrier at least made some effort to personally acknowledge their customers. Demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to remember someone’s name in turn does wonders for how you are perceived. I was once sent an e-mail reply that started with “Dear Gopher80.” The company addressed me using my e-mail name even though I used my real name in my original e-mail. This is a sign of an unprofessional company who has clearly hired someone not entirely that smart to deal with their customers.

The easiest way to address someone you don’t know very well is to use the name they gave you, whether it was in person or signed-off in an e-mail. It’s a straightforward rule of thumb that some people never follow. I’ve met people in professional circles who start calling me “Sam” within ten minutes of talking to me even though I introduced myself as “Samantha.” The sudden familiarity is often a bit jarring and uncomfortable.

In many Asian countries, using a title like sensei or sifu is seen as much more respectful. In Western countries however, this can be a little comical, as in the case of a woman I saw running down a street in London, calling after a postal worker “Excuse me, Mr. Postman!”

Seeing your own name in any context always evokes connections and emotions. For a friend’s bachelorette lunch, I worked with the restaurant to incorporate all the guests’ names into the menu’s food and drink items. It was a delight watching my friends’ faces light up as they spotted their names among all the delicious dishes and fancy cocktails.

So stop calling your teacher “Teacher.” Ask them what you should call them. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat their name. And don’t be afraid to use their name — there’s a lot happening in those few syllables.



The Japan Times ST: September 5, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版