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7 Types of Chinese Indonesian Names

In the 1960s, Indonesians of Chinese descent were strongly encouraged to convert their Chinese-sounding names to more Indonesian ones.
7 Types of Chinese Indonesian Names

From 1967 to the early 2000s, the display of Chinese literature, tradition, and culture was banned throughout Indonesia. This ban also prohibited the teaching and learning of Mandarin, and it was during this period that Chinese Indonesians were strongly encouraged to change their Chinese names into more Indonesian-sounding ones.

At the time, names were probably one of the last few pieces of identity that Chinese Indonesians could hold onto, and they felt pressured to let that go as well. However, it turns out some of them did not let it go completely—just like how Chinese Indonesians had to hide in the shadows, their names began to reflect it too.

Let's begin with an overview of Chinese Indonesian naming conventions to get a more complete picture of the identity struggles many Chinese Indonesians have to face. These naming conventions are sorted based on their perceived trends from the least to the most recent.

Here are the 7 types of Chinese Indonesian naming conventions:

1. Chinese influences

Presidential Instruction 14 of 1967 did not explicitly forbid anyone from having a Chinese-sounding name, and although many felt the pressure to change their names, there were indeed Chinese Indonesians who retain their romanized Chinese names to this day. These names are often Hokkien, Teochew, or Hakka names, such as Eng Sim Yin, Lim Ong Huat. Normally, these names are owned by older generations of Chinese Indonesians who did not change their names in the 1960s.

2. Indonesian influences

Chinese Indonesians who did adopt full Indonesian names usually have names like Sugiarto, Mariati. Adopting this type of naming convention was most likely done in the attempt to conceal as much Chinese identity as possible. More recent generations of Chinese Indonesians nowadays are no longer usually named with only Indonesian names.

3. Western–Chinese influences

This naming convention is widely adopted all around the world, especially in Singapore, Malaysia, and people of Chinese descent in Commonwealth countries. Examples: Jessica Liang, Tommy Tjong. Not many Chinese Indonesians are named this way, but they are around.

Chinese Indonesians who possess these names tend to have a rather unique spelling on their Chinese family names, for instance, Tjoe instead of Chu, Tjong instead of Chong. This is a spelling influence from the Dutch, as Indonesia was previously a colony of the Netherlands. During this period, Chinese names were sometimes recorded by Dutch administration and it was romanized based on Dutch spellings. In Dutch, /tj/ is pronounced as a [c] and /oe/ is pronounced as a [u].

4. Western–Indonesian influences

This naming convention involves a Western name paired together with an Indonesian name. Some examples of Western–Indonesian names are Philbert Antono, Winny Putri.

5. Western influences

Recent generations of Chinese Indonesians are often given Westernized names instead. This is interesting because it shows the somewhat unique position Chinese Indonesians have in terms of their identity. If it's a struggle to have a Chinese name, and they are not ethnically Indonesian, then what should they do? They opted for Westernized names instead.

Some Chinese Indonesians went full steam ahead on this and named their children in complete Westernized names. A few examples are Jesslyn Lydia, Albert Thomas. This naming type is typically found amongst Chinese Indonesians born after the 1990s.

6. Chinese–Indonesian influences

Here is where it also gets a little more interesting. This naming convention illustrates the idea of how Chinese Indonesians had to hide in the shadows, and their names reflected that as well.

Essentially, this naming convention merges a Chinese family name with a seemingly Indonesian name.

Example: Chinese surname Lim merged into the seemingly Indonesian name Susanti Salim—notice how the Chinese surname is hidden in what appears to be an Indonesian name.

7. Western–Chinese–Indonesian influences

This is the most common form of Chinese Indonesian names nowadays and it sort of combines the best of three worlds. Typically a Western name is used as the first name, and a combination of Chinese–Indonesian name is used as the last name.

Example: William Tanadi—William (Western name) with Chinese surname Tan merged with Indonesian-sounding name Tanadi.

Notice again how the Chinese surname Tan is merged into Tanadi, making the last name seemingly Indonesian although it signifies a Chinese surname.

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