What’s in a name…

Well, just like I promised in another blog, I am going to explain why I signed my name as Avi Mu and why my username is AviMuMu.

Names are important. Sapos wanpela man points at me and yells, “Hey, you!” or “Yu kam,” I always feel a little disrespected. I mean, come on, couldn’t you ask me my name and then call me by that rather than lumping me in with everyone else and rudely yelling, “Hey you!” In addition to the fact we all have names and we like to be called by them, our names mean something, and usually we take pride in that meaning. For example, Sarah means “princess”, Michael means “who is like God”, and Rebecca means “captivating.”

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Here I am with my super fabulous friend, Sarah – whose name means “Princess.”

I have always held a bit of contempt for dictionaries that define my name as “feminine form of John.” Ai, mi les olgeta long dispela buk! Is it really that hard to look up the meaning of John and write that down under my name? I know, I know – so what does John mean? John means “God is gracious” – so, my name does have a beautiful meaning, but why not put “God is gracious” by my name in the name dictionary? Urg, it will always bug me. If I ever write a name book, I won’t put feminine or masculine form of anything under anyone’s name!

Used with permission from www.bigfoto.com. See website for copyright details.

Used with permission from http://www.bigfoto.com. See website for copyright details.

See – already I am getting worked up about wanpela name. A silly little name – or is it? When I have worked with kids in the past, I usually mess up their names in the beginning as I am learning them. Whenever I do this, they waste no time in correcting me. If I got another child’s name wrong, they correct me too. Names are important! We want to be called by our name and have it pronounced the right way. It’s my name, it sets me apart from the billions of others around me, and its a part of who I am. Why do you think one of the first things you learn in another language is, “Nem bilong yu wanem?”  My name is important. Your name is important.

It is no different in Papua New Guinea. In Yemli, however, the most important name comes from your birth order and gender. There is a name for the first born man and a different one for the  first born meri. A different name for the second born boy and a different one for the second born girl, and so on. After about the sixth boy or girl the names become the same – probably because whoever made them up got sick of coming up with new names.

One our closest family friends and their family. Each of their children has a birth order name and are usually called by that name rather than their given name.

One our closest family friends and their family. Each of their children has a birth order name and are usually called by that name rather than their given name.

Anyways, the name for the first born girl is Mu. So growing up, people would always call me Mu, or Avi Mu. Avi means “woman” or “female.” (Yes, I know I’m letting you off the hook and not making you look to the bottom of the entry to get the meaning for Avi. I think this would be a little too complicated if I made you do that!) So as you can see, they were calling me Woman First Born Girl. That is what I grew up responding to as nem bilong mi in the village. Brata bilong mi, the first born son, grew up hearing his name as Bop or Anu Bop. Anu means “man” or “male.” My next brother, second born son, was named Anu Nuk, and my next brother, third born son, was named Anu Ngwa. Yu save nau!

My mom is also the first born daughter in her family, so she is Mu as well, and my dad is the first born son in his family, making him Bop. My husband is the first born son in his family making him Bop, and his sister is the first born girl, making her Mu. Every person has a birth order name, and in Yemli, every person and their uncle knew your birth order name.

So, that explains why I signed my name as Avi Mu last time, but the reason my username is AviMuMu has a story of its own. My husband often calls me Mu because it’s a name I grew up hearing, and he likes being able to incorporate what he can of my past into our marriage. He is an amazing man, and often speaks Tok Pisin with me! What a blessing! Anyways, as we continued dating, he developed a new name for me, and it is MuMu! It takes my village name and adds on his flare, and I love it! So, there you have it – the mystery is solved!

One of my our first dates - I don't remember if he had started calling me MuMu yet, but if he hadn't started yet, he would soon!

One of my our first dates – I don’t remember if he had started calling me MuMu yet, but if he hadn’t started yet, he would soon!

If you want to know your birth order names, let me know what order you are. I don’t care what number child you are overall, only what number you are in your gender. That is what’s important.

Long wanpela narapela taim, I will try to explain how family and extended family structure works – that will take a LOT of explaining!

Until next time…

Avi Mu 🙂

 

Tok Pisin/Male Dictionary

Sapos wanpela man – “Sapos” means if, and “wanpela man” means one man, or a man

Yu kam – literally translates as “You, come,” but often can just be shortened to “Come here!”

Ai, mi les olgeta long dispela buk! – “Ai” is similar to saying “Oh” or “My goodness.” The next phrase just means “I don’t like books like these” or “I don’t like this book.”

Wanpela – This means one, or a.

Nem bilong yu wanem? – Can you guess what this is asking?! It means, “What’s your name?” You you can feel confident to go to Papua New Guinea and ask anyone what their name is!

man- This is a tough one… it means “man!” But – you pronounce the “a” as the “o” in “bon fire.”

meri- Woman

nem bilong mi – my name

Yu save nau! – “Now you get it” or “You’ve got it!”

Long wanpela narapela taim – next time

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About AviMuMu

I'm a wife, a wanna be mom, and a nanny. I love the Lord, my husband, and my family and I love getting to meet new people and having deep meaningful conversations!

2 responses to “What’s in a name…

  1. The "fabulous friend" Sarah :-D

    Oh my gosh, we were so adorable! 😀 …I totally just skipped over everything after I saw your pic of us, but I am going back up to read it. And you should send me that pic! I love it!

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