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Batman Suparman’s mother not amused son’s name made international news

Another fact: There are two people named Batman in Singapore.

By November 17, 2013

When Batman Suparman was jailed for two years and nine months last Monday for theft, housebreaking and consuming heroin, the online world could not hold back their giggles at this stranger than fiction story.

His story made it onto the list of best-read stories on the BBC website and spawned creative headlines that helped remove the tedium of headline writing. (See below for examples.)

However, Batman’s mother is not amused her son has become an international sensation.

She reportedly told Singapore’s mainstream press, sounding irritated to be asked if her son had been named after a comic hero: “A person’s name is not a laughing matter and it’s our business what we name our child.”

She also claimed Batman was a normal Javanese name. It is pronounced as “But-Mun”.

But experts that international media spoke to explained that Batman’s name is most likely not traditional or Javenese in origin.

Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer told BBC it was an “interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture”.

Abdul Rahim Omar, a veteran Malay language teacher that the mainstream press spoke to, said that 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.”

To decide for yourself you can read this helpful breakdown of Batman’s name:

“Batman, on the other hand, has no false friends in local languages (as far as I’m aware). And the character of Batman is almost as well known in the region as Superman, so it’s hard to imagine any source other than the DC Comics superhero.”

“Could Suparman and his wife have named their son Batman as a wry joke, playing on the similarity of Suparman to Superman? Perhaps, but it would be unfortunate for the young man to be saddled for life with his parents’ one-time attempt at humor.”

More amazingly, there is another Batman listed in the phone directory in Singapore. Not so amazing though, is that there are 23 listings of Suparman.

 

Here are some of the creative headlines that milked Batman for all its worth:

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