Batman Suparman story takes off

Batman Suparman story takes off

Singapore's Batman Suparman made news when he was sent to jail last Monday for a string of crimes. His story also took off beyond Singapore, making the list of best-read stories on the BBC website.

The interest clearly was less about his crimes - theft, housebreaking and consuming heroin, for which he was jailed for two years and nine months - and more about his unusual name.

His mother, however, was not amused to hear that his name was being talked about here and elsewhere. "A person's name is not a laughing matter and it's our business what we name our child," she said, irritated to be asked if he had been named after the comic hero.

She claimed Batman, 23, was a "normal" Javanese name properly pronounced as "But-Mun".

Only one other person in the phone directory is named Batman but when contacted, the woman declined to be interviewed. There are 23 listings of Suparman, the name of Batman's father.

Some international media called on experts to help explain Batman's name. Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer told BBC it was an "interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture".

Veteran Malay language teacher Abdul Rahim Omar told The Sunday Times that while Suparman is a common Javanese name, Batman is not and has no meaning in Malay or Javanese. "I think his parents were probably inspired by the comic."


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