More Bibliography Woes

I (TP) was only scratching the surface of my difficulties with bibliographies.  Malay, Indian, and Chinese naming conventions really aren’t that hard to master once you learn the rules.  And fortunately, just by looking at the name it is almost always possible to tell what rules to use: Chinese names, Indian (usually Tamil) names, and Malay names are significantly different enough not to confuse you.

Indonesia is the real problem.  I’m sure that someone who has spent a lifetime studying the various cultures and languages of Indonesia would understand things, but I do not.  The issue stems from the fact that different ethnic groups across the archipelago have different naming conventions.  And, from looking at the name, you cannot normally what that ethnic group is.  Javanese is the exception–if it’s got an "o" at the end of it and it starts with "Su/Soe", you can be sure it’s Javanese.  Then there are Balinese, which are easy to spot because there is a pattern.  In Balinese, your name is determined by gender and birth order.  If you are a boy, your first name is I.  If you are a girl, your first name is Ni.  If you are the first born, your second name is Wayan.  If you are the second born, your second name is Made or Nengah, and so on.  Then you get your name.  So someone named "I Made Budiana" is the male second child named Budiana.  You alphabetize starting with the first name.  Of course, this is only for the common caste; higher caste levels have more complicated names.

But there’s another layer of complexity.  Some Muslim Indonesians–but not all of them–have dropped their ethnic naming conventions and adopted Islamic naming conventions.  In such a situation, it’s like Malays in Malaysia: first name is given name, second name is father’s name.

However, we are usually not so lucky.  There are Indonesians (usually Javanese) with only one name, like Soeharto and Sukarno.  There are Indonesians with two first names and no last name, like Soeharto’s son Bambang Trihatmodjo. There are Indonesians with just a first name and a family name, like Emil Salim or Rizal Mallarangeng.  There are Indonesians with a first name and a clan name, like Anwar Nasution or Djisman Simandjuntak.  There are Indonesians with a first name and a patronymic, like Sukarno’s daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri. 

So, what you need to know is not only the name, but what the name means.  There is no rule besides that.  It’s good to be able to recognize Minangkabau clan names like Nasution and Simandjuntak, but there are many more that I don’t know.  You just have to know, for example, that Bambang Trihatmodjo is Soeharto’s son and that Trihatmodjo is a descriptive second part of a first name, not a last name.  For bibliographies, these are the rules.

On a related note, here’s a bit of information I learned about people with Abdul in the names, and why you refer to someone named Abdul Razak Hussein as "Abdul Razak" or "Razak", not just "Abdul".  Abdul means "servant of", and in Muslim names, get combined with one of the ninety-nine words used to describe Allah in the Qur’an.  So, for example, in the Qur’an Allah is referred to as "al-Razzaq", the Sustainer.  The name "Abdul Razak" means "servant of the Sustainer".  "Abdul Jabbar" means "servant of the Compeller", and so on.  Which is why you would never just call someone "Abdul": it’s incomplete.  This is good stuff to know so you don’t make a fool of yourself, and it’s also the type of stuff that no one ever sits down and tells you.

Comments 2

  1. Josh June 23, 2005

    Posts about bibliography troubles are just a cheap way to earn blog hits

  2. Tom June 24, 2005

    Never thought about it that way. But, since the blog gets shut down in two months anyway, if I wanted to get blog hits, I should have started this earlier.

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