Saturday, October 13, 2012

So many Wongs

For many years I knew two Wongs. There is an old slightly racist Australian(?) joke that I won't repeat but odd occasion I saw the two Wongs together, it made me think of the joke. If I saw one Wong alone, and you have to be of a certain age, I would think of an old credit card ad. Wait, I'll try You Tube. Yes, here it is. It was actually travellers cheques, not a credit card.



Now I know four Wongs, two at work, occasional commenter and transport enthusiast Marcus and a personal friend whose family name I only just discovered.  I can only recall two Smiths and I don't know either well.

Does this say something about the changing face of Australia, or is it just my world?

In an co-incidence almost too unbelievable to be true, when I just checked Marcus' blog address for the link, he had just written about his name and even used the same credit card clip. It seems there were difficulties in Australian for Wongs when that ad was on air.


12 comments:

  1. I remember a joke that went, Be careful when you phone someone in China, you might Wing the Wong number. As kids, we thought that was hilarious, but I don't suppose too many people would say it now or laugh at it.

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    1. River, much like the joke I remember. It was essentially word play. Wong was not in our vocabulary, but it sounded like wrong and the way we thought Asian people pronounced English words.

      I expect Wongs have been in Australia from about the 1850s, well before your country people arrived and at the same time one half of my family arrived. My other family half arrived post the Wongs.

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  2. Without wishing to dismiss the discomfort of any Wongs following the release of that ad, I have been on the receiving end of a great deal of ribbing when ads with Anglo names have been used. Such trite jokes usually say more about the joker than the jokee.

    The ad shows Mr Wong to be sensible and reassuring, so I don't see anything wrong with the ad. Which is to say, why shouldn't such an ad still be made?

    As for the old jokes, I don't see anything offensive about River's phone joke either, it's just a pun. Most of us of a certain age have heard it and not thought less of Asians.

    I do remember putting a 2 bob bit between my teeth to free up my hand, however, and my mother warned me it might have been up a Chinaman's bum. Why a Chinaman? I probably wondered, learning only from her tone that I'd better not get caught putting money near my mouth again.

    Can't say I've ever met a Wong, that I know of. Have met lots of Nguyens, and still have no clue about how to pronounce the name.

    The face of Australia is changing though, and probably for the better.

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    1. Luv, my birthday eve and you are being so wordy. Yes, it is a pun on a word that is not English history.

      Yes, I heard similar things. Must have kicked a Chinaman.

      With words, we can pun all we like and I guess that this is what I was really writing about.

      But words can hurt. I don't like hurting feelings.

      I can pronounce Nguyen, but our English language is lacking in that there aren't the words or phrasing to say how it is pronounced.

      I can say it but I can't tell you how to say because it is so alien.

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    2. The "g" is silent and it is pronounced newyen as far as I know. I've said it that way and never been corrected.

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    3. River, that is as close as it can be expressed in English.

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  3. Our home town had a Chinese restaurant called 'Mr Wong' in the mid-seventies, and I bet nearly every one who walked in called our "Mr Wong, Mr Wong! I' ve lost my travellers' cheques!"

    A bit like my previous surname - when someone made a joke about it, I used to sigh and say, "Oh, clever. No-one's ever thought of that one before, well done."

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    1. Kath, Mr Wong was rather amusing to us at the time. For some of we older people, it still might be. I doubt young people bat an eyelid.

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  4. I know the following is not very PC but its just the way it was back in my youth "Two Wongs Don't Make A Wight".

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    1. Ah Windsmoke, someone had to say it.

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  5. Windsmoke stole my thunder...it was the first thing that came to em...its still okay to say this as no doubt they have puns on our names as well just for the fun of it

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  6. Probably not MC, which is why I avoided saying it. It is so old, that it comes from a time when there was serious racism. One can't help but like a pun on words though.

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.