Sunday, June 04, 2006

OK, I'm confused about the name of the Burmese dissident leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. My impression was that those four syllables constitute her surname, not her personal name. That's "Daw". So if you want to refer to her formally, you say "Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi", or "Aung San Suu Kyi" (depending on whether your stylebook says to refer to John Smith as "Mr. Smith" or just "Smith" on second reference.) But I've also seen/heard her referred to as "Suu Kyi". Even on her website, . So what gives? I know her father was the general Aung San. I know plenty of Burmese only have one name, such as Thant, the diplomat and U.N. Secretary General. ("U" was an honorific, like "Mr.") I actually think it's kind of cool how in several countries in the news, such as Afghanistan and Indonesia, people use only one name. I love how at some point in every New York Times article on Indonesia, at some point, some man in the street is quoted, and in the attribution comes the explanatory "who like many Indonesians uses only one name", just so readers don't think the reporter forget to get full information (or was trying to protect a source's identity.) I always wondered what 80's Afghani leader Najibullah's first name was, only to find he didn't have one. This is an interesting issue that comes up in library cataloging, which, I guess I might as well mention, it what I do for a living. (Well, not really for a living. For an internship though that takes up a lot of my time and gives me some spending money while I finish off my Master's degree in Library and Information Science.) What is the correct form of the name? What should we file it under? In the UC Berkeley catalogs, which is what I work on, which goes by surname first, everything by her is under "Aung San Suu Kyi", not "Aung San Suu Kyi, Daw" or "Suu Kyi, Aung San".

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