Batman bin Suparman has been jailed in Singapore on theft and drugs charges.
His double-barrelled superhero name has given him something of cult following on social media.
The jokes on social media are aplenty following the news that 23-year-old man Batman bin Suparman has been given a prison sentence of 33 months by a court in Singapore.
He was arrested after being caught stealing money from a shop, as well as using his brother’s cash card to withdraw money. Far-fetched as it seems, this unusual name does appear to be entirely genuine – and it’s not gone unnoticed.
Back in May 2008, a Singaporean ID card belonging to one Batman bin Suparman began being widely shared on social media. It was picked up by the blog Gizmodo and ran from there. Since then, the picture has been re-posted over 300 times, there have been more 15,000 tweets using his name, and a Facebook fan page has been set up in his honor. It has more than 11,000 followers.
Batman bin Suparman’s family appear to be originally from the Indonesia island of Java – where the name Suparman is very common, explains Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who has worked in Indonesia and who has written about Suparman.
“Su” has Sanskrit origins and is a common prefix in Indonesia, featuring in a whole rung of Indonesian presidents’ names – including the current one Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “Bin” means “son of” in Arabic, making it very likely that Batman’s father was also called Suparman.
The Batman part is a bit harder to explain, however says Ben Zimmer, as it’s not a traditional name in the region. The most likely explanation is that his parents chose it as a joke – Batman the superhero is popular there, and Indonesians are often playful in the names they choose, says Ben Zimmer.
“I see the name as this interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture.”