Why do Indians ask your "good self" for your "good name"?
- I asked Sujatha's cousin from the U.S what his good name was and he burst out laughing. Sujatha said that his good name was Rahul and his bad name was Bala.
- That must have made you mad.
- It certainly did. Anyway, what was wrong with the question I had asked?
- You see, native speakers of English don't say, “What's your good name?”. They ask you for your ‘name’, not your ‘good name’. By the way, do you have a ‘bad name’?
- No, I don't! You mean it's wrong to say, “What's your good name?”.
- It's quite common within India. But native speakers of English don't use it.
- Then why do we say it?
- I think it's the mother tongue influence. I have a feeling that “What's your good name?” is actually a translation of how the question is asked in Hindi. Of course, there may be other Indian languages which ask you for your ‘good name’ as well.*
- That's interesting. But do you mean to say that native speakers of English never use the expression ‘good name’?
- Of course, they do. But they don't use it when they want to know your name. The expression ‘good name’ is used to refer to one's ‘reputation’. For example, if someone says “You have ruined the good name of the family”, it means...
- ...it means you have ruined the family's reputation.
- Yes, you have brought shame on the family, and what not!
- Tell me, while we are on the subject of ‘good name’, is it wrong to say ‘good self'’?
- Good self! I thought there was only one ‘Self’ for everyone to try to realise! I didn't know there was a good self and a bad self!
- What are you talking about?
- Just a little philosophy. But never mind. Native speakers of English seldom use ‘good self’. It is considered rather old fashioned. If at all used, it is used in highly formal contexts. Usually in writing.
- I see. When writing to my uncle or my cousin, I shouldn't use ‘good self’?
- I wouldn't. Why use good self at all? Just say ‘you’.
* “When meeting someone Indian for the first time, it is customary for them to ask you what your "good" name is. It could be our way of making a first interaction seem more polite and formal, or could have been a literal translation from the Hindi phrase "Aapka shubh naam kya hai?" (‘shubh’ meaning good, auspicious) Alternatively, it may be a derivation from the Bengali custom of giving everyone a "shubh naam" (a good, or given, name) and a "daak naam" (a petname or nickname).” Source: http://www.samosapedia.com/e/good_name