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What’s in a name?

August 18, 2011

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

Ahh immortal words by the oft-quoted Billiam Shakespeare himself! And I’ve found that maybe no truer words have been spoken. It’s pretty great to be able to call things by words in other languages. It’s even better when you yourself get Christened by the locals.

Before I arrived in Tajikistan I had already made waves. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but Tajikistan has a lot of different ethnicity and linguistic divides. There are Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgys, Afghans, Arabs, Expats and around 12 Pamiri tribes, each of whom speaks their own language. This makes the practice of watching your tongue really difficult, as some words sound similar but mean very different things in each language.

Take my name for instance. Kim from Kimberly. Meaning full of grace (umm Mom and Dad sorry but this one was kinda a misnomer, stairs are still a challenge for me at 23). In Uzbek Kim is Who? So prior to my arrival there was a conversation between my boss and Usmon, the office manager which went like this:

Usmon: Who is coming tomorrow?

John: Kim.

Usmon: (thinking John is speaking Uzbek) Who?

John: Kim.

Usmon: Kim is coming tomorrow? Who is coming tomorrow?!

This carried on in Abbot and Costello fashion until John literally had to spell out an intern, whose name is Kim, is arriving from America. As soon as I showed up I heard this story, and so my name here is Kimiyo, which means mystery.  Much more appropriate than my English name since Tajik and Tajikistan are as much a mystery to me as I am to it. However, fear not mom and dad, this rose is still as clutsy as ever.

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