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


Chill a Little, Dr. Lee! Let the Nation Honor Your Father.

DR. Lee Wei Ling could learn a thing or two about not taking herself so seriously. But then again, that’s tough advice to give to someone so grim and severe, someone whose personal motto must probably embrace either one or two of these words: “serious” and “should.”

It doesn’t help that she exudes a brooding, philosophical quality, wont to seeing the darker rather than the brighter side of life. One can almost detect a depressive bent to her voice—something I observed from a piece she wrote immediately following her father’s death. That’s only natural, given how her grief was still so fresh and raw. That was the last I read of her, until April 1st, Continue reading

After the Sound and the Fury, the Worry

SANTHA must have performed her pooja early this morning, not at home, but at the temple. That’s what she told me she was going to do when I ran into her at Toh Yi Drive yesterday, along the pathway of Block 1, at the top of the handicap ramp the PAP had built, one of the many recent community improvement initiatives spearheaded by Ms. Sim Ann, Member of Parliament for the Holland-Bukit Timah constituency.  Continue reading

Careful With Those French Words

EXACTLY thirty years ago when I was a Secondary Four student in Raffles Girls’ School, I asked my English teacher, Mrs. S., what she thought about using French words in our essays. I may or may not have rattled off concrete examples like raison d’être or coup de grâce.  Continue reading

Long Paragraphs Aren’t Cool

PERHAPS the train breakdown last Tuesday made us all cranky, The Straits Times included. In their July 10 editorial, Disruption Deja Vu All Can Do Without, the editorial team concluded their commentary with two chunky, back-to-back paragraphs.

What does Professor Strunk, author of The Elements of Style, have to say about long paragraphs? Continue reading