Naming stuff is hard
Syonan Gallery, Eunoia JC, 1 Sengkang Mall...
Has this ever happened to anyone else?
I once told a taxi driver I wanted to go Marina Square and was driven to Novena Square instead. I was nonplussed.
"You said Novena Square, right?" the driver said.
That was when I realised how similar "Marina Square" sounds to "Novena Square".
For a split-second, I half-considered getting out of the taxi and taking the train from Novena station just to avoid the awkwardness.
I felt foolish. And I was about to make the cabbie feel foolish too.
"No, Marina Square," I said.
The driver was not having a good day. "Aiyah, next time can say properly or not?"
So the cabbie very resentfully drove me to Marina Square while I sat in mortified silence.
Yah, I definitely should have taken the MRT instead.
You know who I blame for this? Whoever decided there would be a place in Singapore called Novena Square when there's already a place called Marina Square.
Why are we so bad at naming stuff?
Yes, that taxi anecdote was just my roundabout way (literally) to get to the topic of Syonan Gallery.
The name of the permanent World War II exhibition at the Former Ford Factory museum was criticised, you know, because Japanese Occupation.
It's roughly the same reason my father refused to buy a Japanese car. We had a Volkswagen and then a Ford. I doubt he had ever eaten sushi.
He's dead now. I'm not sure how he would feel about Hello Kitty or Syonan Gallery.
On Wednesday at the exhibition's opening, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim defended Syonan Gallery, saying the naming did not express approval of the Japanese Occupation.
But two days later, the name was gone.
Dr Yaacob said: "I have reflected deeply on what I heard. We must honour and respect the feelings of those who suffered terribly and lost family members during the Japanese Occupation. I have therefore decided to remove the words 'Syonan Gallery' from the name of the exhibition, and name it Surviving The Japanese Occupation: War And Its Legacies."
He also apologised "for the pain the name has caused".
So sayonara, Syonan Gallery.
Also this month, it was reported that Changi Naval Base will be renamed "RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base" to help commemorate the Republic of Singapore Navy's 50th birthday this year.
Apparently, our navy is going through some sort of mid-life crisis. Can't it just buy a sports car and have an affair like everyone else?
The backstory is that RSS Singapura is the name of one of our navy's first ships half a century ago.
Someone has written to The Straits Times to complain about the naval base's new name.
Dr Sunny Goh wrote: "Most people - visitors and taxi drivers included - will pick either RSS Singapura or Changi Naval Base. No one is going to blurt out the entire mouthful in everyday situations."
Yah, most people already have enough problems deciding whether it's Espla-naid or Espla-nard.
Dr Goh also pointed out that the abbreviation of the new name, RSSSCNB, is "unwieldy".
I might add that at first glance, it appears vaguely vulgar too.
Remember the uproar over Eunoia Junior College? It may annoy ya to know that it's still Eunoia JC.
Remember the outrage over 1 Sengkang Mall? The name has since been dropped, despite it having nothing to do with the Japanese Occupation, and the mall is now Compass One.
And yet people are okay with Tampines, the spelling of which is so close to "tampons" but it's pronounced Tam-penis. That's wrong on so many levels.
Is the problem the names - or is it sometimes our overreaction to the names?
Whatever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never cause me to go on a social media rant?
Just remember when you tell the taxi driver you want to go to Marina Square, enunciate.