On G+ Gwyneth LLewelyn said:
'Interesting how the obsession about "real names" seems to be mostly a Western cultural thingy. I wonder how it all started. In my country, people just started to have last names in 1911, when the newly-created republic insisted that everybody should be registered with at least a first name and a last name. In some regions, known for their sense of humour, people invented completely absurd names (some used to be nicknames, others were clearly invented on the spot): to this day, there are some laughable last names in circulation (most would be lost in translation :) ).
By contrast, I recently realised that some Eastern cultures have a completely different approach to "names". Inspired by philosophies that question the existence of an inherent self, they encourage followers to switch names often, so to release their attachment to a given name, and through that, to see how a name is just a concept — like the notion of an "inherent self". Buddhist practitioners commonly get new names by their teachers (some can be hilarious when translated, as well — others are just auspicious) and at several stages of their progression in their practice. An interesting side effect is that it's sometimes hard to unravel historical accounts on a particular teacher, since he might have written several books under different names :)
To this day, I have absolutely no clue about what name some of my teachers have in their passports. And in some cases I actually found their so-called "real names" — they just felt so "wrong", because, well, I got attached to their current names...
The point here is just that this issue about obsession with "real names" seems to be culturally conditioned. But even in the West, in Christian communities, people would get a different name when baptized in adult life — and parishes kept track of both. And although it's not common practice in my country, I understand that some countries keep track of maiden names as well and might have them listed on ID cards and similar documents.
Not to mention, of course, that under common law systems one is pretty much allowed to do business under whatever name they please, so long as the business is legitimate...'
posted by - 7:05 PM