French court bans naming a child 'Nutella': Unusual personal names in Singapore

SINGAPORE - A French court said no to "Nutella" and put a stop to "Strawberry", nixing some couples' plans to give their children the unusual names.

Now named Ella and Fraisine (instead of Fraise, which is French for "strawberry"), the girls will not be made fun of for their names, the court argued.

Here are some uncommon names seen here, and their origins.

Batman Suparman

The heroically-monickered Batman Suparman has pages dedicated to him on Facebook and made international headlines when he was jailed in 2013 for theft, housebreaking and consuming heroin.

Suparman is a common Javanese name, said experts whom The Straits Times spoke to, but Batman has no meaning in Malay or Javanese.

One person was reportedly irritated with the attention surrounding Batman's name - his mother.

"A person's name is not a laughing matter and it's our business what we name our child," she told The Sunday Times on Nov 17, 2013, adding that Batman was a "normal" Javanese name pronounced "But-Mun".

Lim Tit Meng

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The CEO of Science Centre Singapore explained the origins of his name in a Supper Club interview in 2014: "I'm Teochew. I asked my late father once why he named all his sons differently.

"He said: 'I look at your face when you're born and I name you from what I see in your face. You had a very smart look so I thought you're going to be chong meng (Teochew for intelligent). But I could also sense you may become a bad guy because you may use your intelligence wrongly, so I had to put you on the straight path. So, tik tik (Teochew for straight).'

"But why is it t-i-t instead of t-i-k? Because the nurse was Hokkien and 'straight' is pronounced tit tit in Hokkien. So that became my English name."

That didn't stop his platoon mates in Officer Cadet School from teasing him, calling him "cheena man" and saying "you're tits".

Assoc Prof Lim thought they were referring to the bird, only realising years later, as he was about to go to England for his PhD, that "tits" had other meanings.

Zed Lee

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With an unusual name, parents who are celeb royalty and a constant media spotlight, Fann Wong and Christopher Lee's firstborn is probably Singapore's North West (no, not the area - Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's kid).

Born on National Day 2014, the name Zed doesn't have any fancy origins.

"I quite like the sound," Lee said, adding that the couple wanted their son's name to have just one syllable. He also told The New Paper that he "felt Zed paired very well with Lee".

It could have been a lot worse - Wong had said in June 2014 that she might consider naming her baby after the player who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, who turned out to be Mario Goetze.

Tangerine Teo

The former waitress, then 23, was featured in the Straits Times in 1992 in an article on creative names. She gave herself the name Tangerine when she was 16. She continued the creative streak with her son Aven, saying then: "Heaven gave me a son, so I took away he- and it became Aven."

Napoleon Koh

In the same report, Mr Koh, then 37 and a banker, said that he started asking everyone to call him Napoleon when he was just nine, after Napoleon Solo, the agent in the 60s television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He said that he never regretted his name, even though some people called him Nappy.

Beckham Huang

 

A video posted by Pan LingLing (@panlinglingg) onNov 16, 2014 at 9:34am PST

Actors Pan Lingling and Huang Shi Nan's son is named after the former Manchester United and Real Madrid footballer David Beckham, after she was struck by his skills on the pitch.

He was almost named after a different player - Le Sulk himself, Nicolas Anelka - but she thought Anelka could be harder to pronounce.

The two Beckhams met in late 2014 at Great World City with the help of a few of Pan's friends.

Little Ong

Mr Little Ong's name caused him to be bullied relentlessly as a child, especially because he was the shortest kid in class.

"The bullying was so bad that I'd often go home crying," he told Life! in 2014.

He convinced his father to have his name changed via deed poll to Laurent Ong when he was eight. His grandfather had chosen the name Little for him to remind him to be modest.

Now 43, he sees the value of a unique name. "When people hear my name, they remember it," he said. These days, he goes by Laurent Little Ong.

Million Loo

Mr Loo was named Million by his father, who wanted him to grow up to be rich. Some do a double-take when they see his name, some laugh in his face, some tell their colleagues about it and others ask if he is indeed rich.

The shop signage maker told The New Paper on Sunday in 2013 he's "just a normal guy".

Chicken Ong

Twenty years ago, Mr Ong took part in an office chicken-eating competition. Five pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken later, his colleagues started calling him Chicken, and the nickname stuck since.

Mr Ong, an operations director in a roofing company, gladly took it on. "That's how people have come to know me. Why shouldn't I embrace it?" he told The New Paper on Sunday in 2013. The name is now on his business card.

Some friends thought it was demeaning to him, like they were calling a pet or a prostitute, and misunderstandings also occurred when his friends' wives saw his name in their phones.

But he's kept the moniker for a very simple reason: "I like to eat chicken very much."

dshea@sph.com.sg