How To Pronounce “Hagiography”

REMEMBER the big spat that erupted between Dr. Lee Wei Ling and the Straits Times slightly over a week ago? The one that climaxed into a sad and sorry sibling feud between a neurologist sister and her Prime Minister brother on, of all days, Sibling Day last Sunday?

Well, it’s all quiet on the island front now, and no one wants to go there anymore. Neither do I, except for a brief pause over one word that emerged in Dr. Lee’s Facebook post—the only bright spot, it seems, amid the rancor, given that firstly, I had never seen the word before, and secondly, it came with the usual lexical challenge: “So, how do I pronounce this word?” Continue reading


How To Pronounce “Opportunity”

“OPPORTUNITY” doesn’t seem like a word anyone would have problems pronouncing, but mill around the mall, the market, the hawker center, the hallway, or just hang out with your friends, listen to your teachers, how about the politicians?

You might just end up hearing two versions of the word: “op-POR-chew-ni-ti” and “op-per-CHEW-ni-ti.” Now, if you belong to the first camp, you might be going: “Why would anyone pronounce the word any other way?” or “Gee, you mean I’ve been saying it wrong all this while?”

Let’s play a little game of syllables and accents, one that grows progressively goofier. Continue reading

Death to Distractions

SMARTPHONES are so widely used that they have become something of a social evil. People slouch into their iPhones or androids, sucked into a cyber world buzzing with all kinds of distractions: Likes and Shares, Tweets and WhatsApp messages, YouTube and music videos, newsfeeds, Snapchat and WeChat, the noise never stops. Having said that, anyone without a smartphone must surely be from a dinosaur age, unenlightened by the vast resources out there, that wondrous world we call the Internet.  Continue reading