SaBayDii SatJaDham,
	Sorry, I'm late with my article. I'd been so excited with the
MAILSERV thing that I forgot it was due. This is a VERY ROUGH DRAFT. I
just wrote it. I will polish it up and post it to SCL by Monday. In the
mean time comments and suggestions are always welcome.
   	hak phaang,
P.S. If you are offended by it, then you didn't read it very carefully.
If still offended, I'll be happy to discuss it as always..

  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Start of Posting~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.

SaBayDii Dhuk Dhuk Qon,
	The following is a writing from SatJaDham, a literary group
dealing with issues faced by the contemporary Lao. SatJaDham consists of
members from various backgrounds with differring views. The views
expressed here are the sole responsibility of the author and are not
intended to represent all members of SatJaDham or the Lao Community at
	For the latest SatJaDham news and information, please aim your
Web Browser at
	Please post comments to news:soc.culture.laos or email to
       hak phaang,

Alisak Tetsuo Sanavongsay

SatJaDham Presents:
	         "Taste Buds"
	      by Alisak Sanavongsay

	As I was driving to work, I was listening to the radio. On the
radio, they were talking about how 9 months ago had some of the worst
winter storms in the United States. And of course this restricted people
from leaving their homes. To make a long story short, they said that
there are more pregnant people right now than there was at any other
	I know at least three people (all Lao) who are expecting. All
these babies will need to have names. I sat and listened as they talked
about what they were going to name their babies. All three babies are
expecting girls, so some of the names that I heard were "Christy",
"Linda", "Nancy", "Katey", "Mary", "Kimberly", "Samantha", "Pam", and
	I was just sitting there thinking to myself, "These are beautiful
names, but what about Lao names? What about 'Chanmany' or 'Latdavanh' or
'Sengdeuane' or 'Bouaphet' or 'Alivanh' ? Are they not just as beautiful?
	This Lao trend of adopting western names has always fascinated
me. I, too, almost gave myself a western name. Back in the early 80's
Bruce Lee was very popular. I wanted to be like Bruce. I dressed like
him, walked like him, and even tried to talk like him. When my family
became American citizens, we all decided to get American names.
Naturally, I chose "Bruce."
	When it came time to sign our names, I, as well as my younger
brother and sister (Mom signed for Brother and Sister), signed my Lao
name. So, my name was never changed to "Bruce". My brother and sister
retained their Lao names also. Looking back, I can honestly say that,
whether by accident or by choice, I'm glad I kept my Lao name.
	I have been meaning to ask my LAO friends Nick, Steve, Sam, Lisa,
Sue, Samantha, and Mike why they prefer their American names over the Lao
names they were given at birth, but the subject never came up.
	Is this subject just not important enough for us to discuss? Or
maybe we have come to accept it as a fact of life as we row our boats
into the mainstream?
	What's next to go? Our precious language? I'm finding it harder
and harder to resist the temptation to speak English with my Lao friends.
I don't know why, but I find it really hard to speak Lao with someone
with an American name. I guess it's because I assume that since they
prefer the American name, then they probably prefer the American
	With each English phrase I say, it feels as though my taste buds
are corroding away and starting to repel Lao food. Padack is one of the
things I love in my food, but I'm starting to fear that I might lose the
taste for it every time I hear or say or think of the phrase "stinky,
rotten, fish". You just look at it in a different light when you try to
define 'padack' in English. But when said in Lao, it just sounds so
	So I wonder if some Lao people feel the same way about Lao people
who prefer to use American names as I feel about Lao food. As far as I'm
concerned, people are people and padack by any other name still smells
the same, but I still want to find out why some Lao people prefer
American names. Is it because they are ashamed of the "strange-sounding"
Lao name? Is it to make it easier for non-Lao people to say it? Or is it
just to be cool? There are so many reasons. I'm still looking for a good