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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bogner, David Bogner

Sounds a little like James Bond to say my name like that... but more often than not, that's what I find myself doing here when dealing with the various offices of Israel's well-developed bureaucracy.

Where I grew up, it was clear that my name was David Bogner.  If I were in China, they would call me Bogner David (since they use the family name first). I'm sure there are examples of both these name sequences from other places in the world... but I digress.

Israel, on the other hand, seems comfortable not taking sides on this particular issue.  We are the Switzerland of bureaucratic name sequencing!   One clerk may call me Bogner David... another David Bogner... and still another may take my middle name (Lindsay), and mangle it into something manageable to the Israeli tongue, such as 'Landisay'... and then place all three names in seemingly random order.

The phone list for my company actually has names listed both ways, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to why one person is is 'Eli Cohen' and another is 'Cohen Eli'. 

Don't even get me started about the wackiness that ensues when I call directory assistance, because there one gets to add the name of the town (many of which sound like regular 'people names') to the mix!

If anyone can shed some light on how Israel seems to have completely avoided making a decision on the sequence in which names are used/recorded, I would be completely in your debt.


Landisay Bogner David


Posted by David Bogner on November 11, 2004 | Permalink


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I can see where it can be annoying. Hope you get an answer.

In my current job, I communicate with people all over the world and have just gotten used to being addressed as Bogner by most of the asian people. (or even Bogner-san) I also have gotten used to being referred to as a "Sir" in most cases, due to Valerie being a male name in France.

I remember when stationed in Keflavik, Iceland, it was interesting to learn their naming conventions. Offspring were given a somewhat 'normal' first name and their last name was their fathers' first name with either son or dotter appended to it. So the son of Sven, became John Svenson. Their phone directories were listed by first name and last name. VERY CONFUSING!!!!

So be glad you don't live there - coulda been David Delmarson!

I'll be interested to hear how Israel does it!

Posted by: val | Nov 11, 2004 5:46:42 PM

Dear Bogner, you should mention that one little trait of the Hebrew language adds to the confusion: there is no distinction between Hebrew private and family names. Gal Inbar can be Inbar Gal in any combination. (In addition, you have no possibility of finding out his/her sex since many new names are unisex.) I call these modern Hebrew names unisex palindroms... and they were invented to confuse the hostile world. And me personally.

Posted by: Lila | Nov 11, 2004 6:22:27 PM

Ohh, an epiphany on Nordic names. It makes sense...'son' = son/boy, 'dotter' = daughter/girl. Like in the oriental world, and very archaic. I have been wondering about it for quite some time. But not anymore, thanks to the Bognerim.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Nov 11, 2004 6:58:02 PM

Having resided in the US my entire life I've always been Carol Cyr, but because the pronounciation of my last name stumps pretty much everyone, when I say my name I have to spell it first, because I know the spelling will be mangled. Hence I am really Carol C-Y-R Cyr.

And for the first time ever, just by virtue of typing my last name several times in the same paragraph, it now looks totally weird to me.

Posted by: Carol | Nov 11, 2004 7:54:53 PM

Forgive me for plastering boring anecdotes... but just as Carol mentions it...my bro in law's name is Uriel. When he was an assistant teacher in the US, he was asked his name. And so he told them. The answer: "Yuh...Yuhw... - ah so what, I'll call you Jim-Bob!"

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Nov 11, 2004 11:48:39 PM

mademoiselle a., if I were your brother-in-law, I would seriously consider at least a smack. Then again, I tend to be touchy about my name. Cyr is pronounced "seer", but people just love to add an "s" to the end. Which is allowed only once. Because despite what drunk people might say, there is only one of me.

Unless one is taking my multiple personalities into account...

Posted by: Carol | Nov 12, 2004 12:36:07 AM

Hello Mister Lindisay,

A good rule of thumb in Israel is that whenever you don't understand why Israelis do something a certain way, look to the army for an explanation. The IDF tends to use this last-name-then-first-name setup in its own bureaucracy and this has gotten carried over to parts of civilian life.

In addition to this problem, and the one previously noted about first names that can also be surnames (which is true for me as well), you also occasionally find people with two "classic" first names.

I study with a guy named Haim Moshe. Because of the problem you noted, for months I could never remember if his first name was Haim or Moshe. I still hesitate a bit before I talk to him.

Posted by: Shai | Nov 12, 2004 5:44:34 AM

David, How are you? I am sorry to hear about your friend Elroi. I pray he heals quickly. Now I know I sit here in comfortable New Paltz, NY. and that makes it easy to have opinions that may have no basis in the real world, but here they are. Best to you and your family. I hope to come back to my people some day.
The pull out is the most practical thing. To have a small community of Jews living in a sea of angry and desparate Palestinians is not good for the State of Israel. Notice I used the word "State" not "land." I think now Israel will consolidate the Gush area and move on, peace or no peace. If one steps back and looks at history, borders are the most frequent cause of human conflict. If we are created in G-ds image he must have very little artistic talents. All and all the miracle of peace comes when we least expect it. Gil Brenner

Posted by: Gil Brenner | Aug 18, 2005 3:58:30 PM

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