Indianisms in English: You Have a Name, Not a Good Name!

In English Tips + Tricks, News by Farheen Raaj0 Comments

“What is your good name, dear?”

“My good name is Shilpa.”

The amount of times I have been asked my ‘good name’ is beyond count, now. In every conversation in English in our country, this phrase is used very often. We hear it more than enough times and use it too! However, this is another one of those unique Indianisms that has cemented itself into our language. Its usage is very frequent, and hence we have to come to believe it as correct English. The fact, unfortunately, remains that the phrase is wrong.

When introducing yourself or asking for someone else’s introduction, merely “name” is good by itself. “What is your name?” is the right usage. So how did “good name” come about? If you think about it, “good name” is an almost direct translation of the Hindi phrase “shubh-naam”. The idea of someone saying that your name, whatever it may be, is auspicious, is a very nice thought. However, it got slightly diluted when moving to English, with “shubh” becoming “good” in English. Indian manners were not one to be left behind, and thus, “good name” is now a very common utterance, especially with slightly older members of society whose schooling involved a lot of translation from other languages into English for communication.

In the same vein, when we introduce ourselves, we sometimes say “Myself, Shilpa.” Again, this is used so commonly that we think it is correct, and yet, this is another case of language lost in translation. “Myself, shilpa” is a direct translation of “main, shilpa” from Hindi. Our sentiment may not change from one language to another, but our wording must. Hence, the correct way to introduce yourself would be to say that “I am Shilpa” or “My name is Shilpa”.

The next time you have to ask someone their name or tell them yours, remember to be polite, but also, remember LearnEd’s advice to use the correct phrase to make the most impact! Want to learn more about what lies behind such Indianisms and how to correct them? Follow LearnEd and this space!

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