A man with the eye-catching name Batman bin Suparman has been jailed on theft and drugs charges. Well before this case, his double-barrelled superhero name had given him something of cult following on social media.
The jokes on social media are aplenty following the news that a 23-year-old man, Batman bin Suparman, has been given a prison sentence of 33 months by a court in Singapore. Batman 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 honour. 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 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 Zimmer. "I see the name as this interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture."
Zimmer, for one, says he was sad to hear the news of Batman's arrest and sentencing. He believes one of the reasons he became such a star on social media was because of how how young and innocent he looked.
Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite
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