The Unfortunate Misplacement of Diacritics

We had a great time at the scouting camping trip over the weekend even though the weather was cold at night. On Saturday, the kids had a full day of activities. They mixed up with other packs in the DMV area.

One of the highlights was the performance during the campfire program. One of the troops performed a Halloween tune based on “The Addams Family” theme song. The troop leader taught us the lines to sing along. He hummed the riff then sang, “The Thằng Lồn family.”

I flipped the fuck out. Did he just say “Thằng Lồn?” I realized the troop name was “Thăng Long,” but he had to change the diacritics to match the melody and the result was unfortunate. After the program, I confirmed with other leaders and parents to see if it was just me, but I was not alone. One of the leaders pointed out that he heard the same thing because he was right next to the guy who was singing the tune.

The unfortunate misplacement of diacritics had proven that even a Vietnamese speaker can an ancient name of Hà Nội into something completely. In my book, Vietnamese Typography, I emphasized the important of diacritical position to avoid incidents like this one.