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> The strange thing about name tags in Uzbekistan
ahamill
post Aug 21 2009, 02:21 PM
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So, tonight I enjoyed dinner out at a new (2 weeks old) restaurant called Peggy's. It's supposed to be TexMex, the first and only TexMex restaurant in Uzbekistan. It wasn't bad! I'd go again. Great musicians, very talented guys.
We noticed that our waiter had a name tag with the name "Sancho". THat's not an Uzbek OR a Russian name, I noticed out loud, and the two Foreign Service Officers on eihter side of me explained that NO ONE in Uzbekistan wears name tags with their own name on it. It's a curious type of ... anonymity? It's an unwillingness to present your true identity to strangers and the only reason for that is if you're worried about what might come of that.
So, Sacho freely let us know he was called Sasha when asked...
So maybe it's just up for show?
Still, it was an interesting dinner.


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starlagurl
post Aug 21 2009, 02:23 PM
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Ha!
Side question:
Was it a mariachi band that was playing?


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littlekate
post Aug 21 2009, 03:54 PM
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Nice! Sancho looks like a translation of Sasha into Spanish - both modifications of Alexander. I think, such translations of names are a sort of tradition of the Soviet Union. When I was a small girl we had a private English classes for 4 kids. We were so happy when our teacher translated our names into English for us... I was Kate, Marsha was Mari, Misha was Mike... But one boy had untranslatable name - Slava. This made him unhappy. My brother's name is Andrey and I call him Andrew (easily translatable name), my cousin is Olga (untranslatable), and we call her Oling (to anglise the name a bit). I was so much surprised when learned that in Canada it is so important not to call Helena a girl who is actually Elena. Why?
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kathryn77
post Aug 22 2009, 08:06 AM
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Cool, that was all very interesting, thanks both of you. Kate - I am now going to start calling my Uncle Alex, Sancho! Much more interesting name, ha ha!

I used to get my hair cut by a Chinese girl called 'Janet' - I think that was just to make it easier for people, not sure what her real name was! It amused me though smile.gif


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littlekate
post Aug 22 2009, 12:04 PM
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Sasha is a Russian name, why have not they employed an Uzbek man; he would look much more Mexican than even the blackest variety of a Russian one?
By the way, Ahamill, how many Russians are living in Uzbekistan now?
Katherine, please, let us know, what is the real name of Janet girl – I expect something unexpectable…
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kathryn77
post Aug 22 2009, 02:01 PM
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QUOTE(littlekate @ Aug 22 2009, 06:04 PM) *

what is the real name of Janet girl – I expect something unexpectable…



Sorry...I don't know....and I have no way of finding out - it was a hairdresser when I lived in London quite a few years ago. I really want to know myself now too, but I can't, sorry sad.gif


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starlagurl
post Aug 24 2009, 10:43 AM
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Sometimes in Canada Asian kids pick their own names because their given names are too complicated in English.

This is how my friend's name is Gladys...


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ahamill
post Aug 31 2009, 03:43 AM
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Well, you're right! In fact, because I am blonde and light-skinned and speak Russian, and my name is Alexander so I am called by everyone here Sasha (that's the common nickname), then it is assumed I am one of the many ethnic Russians still living in Uz. They are not at all uncommon and, in Tashkent, probably could be around 30 or 40 percent of the faces I see. Maybe more? In the rural areas, it is much much higher percentage of Uzbeks of the more typical darker skin and hair and eyes. You're right: one of my colleagues has what many consider 'typical' Mexican looks, is always assumed to be Uzbek. (one of my Mexican colleagues in grad school, though, was from Merida and was whiter than I am, blue eyed, and black haired - very European looking - which was his particular heritage).
So anyway, as far as one can speak of ethnicity and the 'look' of people, I look like a Russian lving in Uzbekistan.
The incident of the name tags at the new TexMex place is not isolated and in fact at other restaurants where there are name tags it is frequent that the wrong name is used - the wrong Uzbek or Russian name, as though folks had switched their own name tags with each other in back before coming out to serve.
So 'Sancho' may have been making a play on his name that was appropriate for the TexMex restaurant, but it is a far more common practice at any restaurant.
Which was why it was interesting to me - kind of a funny little note about the power of names or the power of knowing something about someone else, something that is generally REALLY different in the Former Soviet Union than it is even in reportedly hyper-private America! One friend of mine told me he'd never own an Apple product (iPhone, MacBook, etc.) because he says they go on line and send little blips of info about the user and he doesn't know how to disable that feature so he won't ever have one on him. I asked why, what was he thinking the Apple products were saying about him, what if it was just his location, and he said that'd be the WORST, being able to be tracked! Who would be doing the tracking, I wondered aloud, and he smiled knowingly.
It's quite amazing that The X-Files or some other series depicting Big Brother and Conspiracy Theory isn't more popular, eh? There's a market for it.


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ahamill
post Aug 31 2009, 03:48 AM
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Oh yah and just to clear that last question, the names are not switched for names that are easier to pronounce...
there isn't a tourist trade here that is anywhere near prevalent enough for folks to be doing that, though with some of the Uzbek names I'd have initially been grateful for some assistance. Russian names, easy... but Uzbek names, some of them are LOOOOOONG and very difficult to pronouce!
So, no benefit immediately apparent to seeing that a person named Shokhrukh has changed his name tag with someone named Abdurashid!


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littlekate
post Sep 1 2009, 02:11 PM
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In Russia you may also find a lot of people who would not like to be tracked and would smile knowingly if you ask them such a question, especially among the older generation. Translation of names may take place for some purpose like tourist trade, but I can not imagine anyone here called Alexander putting Sergey name tag when serving at the restaurant. Completely impossible! I think we have some fine national thing here. You've completely surprised me with 30-40 per cent of ethnical Russians in Uzbekistan. I though all of them have ran away to Russia in the beginning of 90-s because of some disorders. Others moved together with Uzbeks to earn some money to live on – I see a lot of them around every day. Actually, I do not know, were there any violence/disorders in Uzbekistan soon after the USSR collapsed. Please, tell.
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ahamill
post Sep 2 2009, 03:23 AM
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Yah in Tashkent many many are here! In my office, it is probably 30% people who are ethnically Russian. One of our drivers, Dima, doesn't even speak Uzbek, though he understands it a little; one of the other drivers, Alexeii, can speak Uzbek a bit only because, as he tells it, he had an Uzbek best friend when he was a little boy so he learned some in his childhood.
There is unfortunately some prejudice on both sides - the self-identified "Russian Uzbeks", many who don't even speak Uzbek but were born and raised in Tashkent, can be heard to sometimes use the Uzbek word for 'apricot' as a nickname for Uzbeks. It's derogatory, though, and I hear folks muttering it to themselves when an old Uzbek drives a car recklessly and the Russian driver has to swerve to avoid an accident. Just an example. The Uzbeks have their own derogatory words for Russian-Uzbeks! But I think it's the case that the Russian-Uzbeks can often look down on the Uzbeks. And another buddy of mine, with the last name Dimyanov, who looks very Caucasian (self-identifies as ethnically Russian) says that he'd never have a career in politics in Uzbekistan because of his last name and because of the way he looks - - like a RUssian. So there is discrimination on both sides.
Interestingly, there was a big movement in the 90s to STOP teaching Russian, and to switch the Uzbek language from Cyrillic characters to Latin characters - - to officially break all ties with the SOviet Union, and as a sort of nationalistic pride thing. But this seemed to have a bad effect, leaving MANY people somewhat illiterate, and those who did rely 100% on Uzbek found themselves without access to any information from the outside world: you won't find much translated into Uzbek out in the world, even textbooks for school, kids books, technical manuals, internet pages...
Now, apparently, things are moving back to accepting Cyrillic alphabet when writing Uzbek language and this might help, some here think. There is also more of an opinion that kids should be learning Russian so that they are not isolated from the world, so people will say things like "well we are so lucky that there was a place for my son in that school it's so good they speak and teach RUSSIAN!" - - so that sort of tells you the reality.

It is explained to me that the Russians who are here are those families that couldn't afford to leave Uzbekistan in the 90s after the Soviet Union ended. So, these are generally not rich folks.






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littlekate
post Sep 2 2009, 03:05 PM
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Sasha, thanks for in-depth explanations - I'm quite satisfied.
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