Why do a fair number of Sherpas have "Sherpa" in their name

The wiki gives several names, and “Sherpa” is part of the name. I’m going to assume that as in many Oriental names, that the first name in order is actually the family name, and the next name the “given” name. Then, often it is trailed by “Sherpa.” Is that something like a title, then? As in “Guide Bob Smith” would be “Smith Bob Guide?” What is the deal? I just don’t get it. ETA: I’ve noticed this also in documentaries, so it’s not just the wiki.

I have no answer, but could it be in the same way that sikhs add Singh to their names to show who they are and what group they belong to?

Basically, the Sherpa didn’t really have surnames in Nepal until the 1960s. They were divided into 18 clans, and everybody knew what clan everyone was, but they didn’t use their clan names as part of their names. Then, in 1960, the Nepalese government did a census, and the census takers, who for the most part weren’t Sherpa and didn’t really care about Sherpa clan names, and who were a little put off by their lack of last names (“Look, there’s a space here for your family name. I have to put something down!”) just gave everybody who dressed like a Sherpa or spoke the Sherpa language the last name “Sherpa”. So, you can thank the Nepalese government for the fact that most Sherpa are named Sherpa.

Because, as your own linked wiki article says, Sherpa doesn’t mean Guide, it means a certain ethnic group of people. Today, Sherpa is used in the meaning of Guide because of the expeditions writing about Sherpas, and even applied to other ethnic groups. (Also, Guide is the wrong word, too, because they don’t have a European training for guides, so inexperienced mountaineers who expect native Sherpas to give the same service as normal Guides will face problems).

  1. Nepal is South Asian. Some of Nepal’s minority ethnic groups have close connections to Tibetans, but it’s not safe to assume that they’re “Oriental”'in any specific way. In this case your assumption about name order is wrong.

  2. Sherpa is an ethic group, not a title or a job description

  3. South Asians get their names in many ways. It’s not that uncommon for an ethnic group to use its ethnicity as a family name. Cf. Gurung, Baul, Jain.

Can you explain this?

Sherpas are an ethnic group with many physiological adaptations that allow them to operate at altitude much better than most other populations. As such, they have been heavily involved in high altitude expeditions. A lot of Sherpas have gone into the business of being porters, but many are simply strong bodies attached to an even stronger set of lungs.

Some Sherpas have training in how to be a high altitude guide (setting fixed ropes, crevasse rescue, high altitude navigation, health and safety), most don’t. Sherpas are not interchangeable simple because they can operate at high altitude. Some Guides are Sherpa, some Guides are not Sherpa, some Sherpa are not Guides.

a semi-fictional novel about ghurkas imply single-naming every children born with no patronymic or surname. from the village limbu, there must be hundreds of guys named manbahhadur limbu. same with the jagatman tamangs who all come from the tamang ethnic group.

Great explanation. Thanks :slight_smile:

It’s also a little-known but surprisingly common affectation among celebrities. Helen Mirren, for instance, is actually “Helen Mirren Sherpa.”

That’s Dame Helen Mirren Sherpa to the likes of you.