October 06, 2012

Article at Authory

They Called Him Barry

When my cousin was born, her mother named her Lucinda after the first piece of music she learned to play on the piano. She was so afraid that her daughter would be nicknamed Cindy that she drilled into her daughter from toddlerhood that her name was Lucinda—not Cindy!

Then Lucinda went to Indonesia as a missionary. The Native Indonesians had a difficult time pronouncing her name, so they shortened it to "Lucy." Lucinda accepted this nickname to help bridge the language barrier. She soon grew to like the nickname Lucy, eventually enough that she kept it after returning to the U.S.

I kept wondering why people referred to President Barack Obama, usually with a sneer, as "Barry." When I asked, I was told that he once went by that name, but no other background was provided. Recently, I stumbled across the information that the name originated from the years he spent in Indonesia as a child. While there, he was called Barry ... much like my cousin's name got shortened to Lucy during her time there.

Next time you see the President jeeringly called "Barry," you might want to remember that he is not the only one being insulted. So too are an entire society of people who use nicknames as a means of forging friendships with strangers in their country.

(Image: President Barack Obama and his dog, Bo; Pixabay.)