You-know-ah, Singaporeans don't like ah

PHOTO: The Straits Times, Hardwarezone

SINGAPORE - Would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet? Not if you live in the sunny island of Singapore, no.

Just last week a woman snagged $1,000 for renaming Compass Point "1 Sengkang Mall" - sparking off instant ridicule online for its apparent lack of creativity. On the other end of the spectrum, Singaporeans also have scant tolerance for pompous sounding names; The Noose co-host, Alaric Tay, who plays taxi driver Nicholas Le Fong on the show, even poked fun at the rising number of French names for properties last year, calling "La Chateau", "La Chai Tao Kuay" instead.

And the list of all the unfortunate names that crash and burn tragically in the realm of cyberspace seems to be relentessly inexhaustive.

When the Ministry of Education (MOE) first unveiled the name of the Singapore's newest post-secondary institution, Eunoia Junior College, on Tuesday (Dec 29), it was a time bomb of bad jokes waiting to be set off.

Named Eunoia, the new school will be located at a temporary site at Mount Sinai when it opens in 2017 until its campus in Sin Ming is ready in late 2019. It will take in students in the Integrated Programme from CHIJ St Nicholas, Catholic High and Singapore Chinese Girls School (SCGS).

You-know-ah, 'Eunoia' is pronounced as 'yoo-noh-iea', originating from the Greek word 'εὔνοια' which means 'beautiful thinking'.

Beautiful or not, hordes of jokes, memes and puns exploded all over the Internet, triggering an online petition to rename the school - with many questioning the use of a Greek word for a local institution. Apple's Siri even mistook the word for "you-know-yeah"! 

22-year-old Maisurah Rosli was quick to point out that the name sounded alot like a toxic gas, while Singapore Polytechnic student, Ching Shi Jie, first thought the school was located in Eunos - no surprises there. 

Some have even offered up alternative names. HardwareZone forum user nostudyone said: "Should call Kong Ming Shan JC better," while others opted for simpler convenient names like Sin Ming JC or Bishan JC. Going by the backlash that 1 Sengkang Mall received, I'm not so sure this is a good idea.

Perhaps sensing the onslaught of scathing comments, MOE quickly released a tongue-in-cheek statement to "educate" readers on how to pronounce the school's name accurately.

 

Thanks for your creative interpretations on how to pronounce the name of our newest JC - Eunoia.You know ya, it's an...

Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Either MOE's social media spokesperson has a wicked sense of humour, or the Ministry folks were waiting behind their keyboards in anticipation of such negative responses.

We all like a rebel, but I'm inclined to go with the latter - if so, will MOE quell Singaporeans' outrage by renaming the school?

Like Facebook user Diego Marquez says, "See, look what happens when you failed to seek the divine opinion from the public first."

Marquez has a point. Too simple a name and we cry "unoriginal!", too fancy and we scoff at its pomposity.

Whether it's ammonia, pneumonia or you-know-ah, however you pronounce it, that sweet spot of Singaporeans' approval continues to be highly elusive.

It's all a matter of public opinion. After all, we are not easy to please.

The nation has responded. The ball's in your court, MOE.

debwong@sph.com.sg

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