Sunday, 9 November 2008
Who needs vowels when you're related to Obama?
With Barack Hussein Obama winning the US presidential election, this is the closest I’ve come to having a relative in the (now ironically named) White House.
How is Obama related to me?
His half-sister is married to someone with the surname Ng. My surname is Ong. Take away one letter from my surname and the president-elect and I are practically kin!
Hey, if some little Japanese town can claim a connection to the guy just because the place is coincidentally called Obama, why can’t I do the same just because my surname somewhat resembles his half brother-in-law’s?
I’m so jealous of those of you whose surname is actually Ng, even though it doesn’t have any vowels. Did you ever imagine that your vowel-less surname would be so closely associated to such a historic world figure – who isn’t Chinese?
Much less the president of a country where the people couldn’t even pronounce “Ng”, due to that very lack of vowels – at least not without sounding incredibly constipated.
I suppose it’s as likely as someone who shares a name with Saddam Hussein and has a surname that rhymes with Osama replacing George W Bush, who went to war against those two, as the new Commander-in-Chief.
If Obama’s name is exotic, his half-sister’s name is positively extra-terrestrial: Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng. When I first saw her last name, I thought it was a typo. So did most Americans, I would think.
Soetoro is the name of the Indonesian man Obama’s mother married after divorcing Obama Sr. Maya is married to Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian whose parents were born in Sabah, Malaysia.
Being thoroughly Westernised, both Maya and Konrad pronounce “Ng” as “Ing”. That’s right. They added a vowel.
I have no idea how Konrad’s father pronounces his surname. But if he is Malaysian, I would guess like a Singaporean – vowel-lessly.
Before Maya and Konrad, arguably the most famous Ng in the US was Ana Ng, the title of my favourite song by the American geek-rock band They Might Be Giants - which is to say it's not that famous at all.
You’ve probably never heard of the song, but that’s okay. Neither have most Americans.
In the chorus of the song, “Ng” is pronounced as “Eng”. That’s right. They added a vowel.
Because sounding constipated in a song is never cool.
- Published in The New Paper, 9 November 2008
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
There will be no Today tomorrow. At least in print form. On Friday, Mediacorp published the final print edition of Today newspaper and S...
Are you sitting down? Apparently, a metal bench at a bus stop in Braddell Road is worth $1,500. And it’s not even created by Banksy . ...
So last week, The Guardian newspaper in UK published an advertorial sponsored by UK supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners featuring an...
Dear Ms Lerine Yeo, Just when I thought it was safe to watch Facebook videos again… You know that Nas Daily guy? His videos are so ann...
Last month, it was reported that Nike would stop supplying to smaller shops like those in Queensway Shopping Centre and Peninsula Plaza. ...
Flag-off at a little past 7.30am for Chua Chu Kang Big Farm Run (8km) this morning. I jogged from home to the starting line, which added 3...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...
When I learnt that Vernetta Lopez ’s autobiography Memoirs Of A DJ: Life In Progress was published last week, I rushed to the nearest major...
It has been a year since Clarie Teo left the navy with this Instagram post: The day has finally arrived, not everyone is meant to set fo...
I was thrown for a fruit loop. At first, I thought it was a parody video about the People’s Action Party (PAP) and it should be. After a...