Eunoia or 'ev-nee-ah'? JC principal explains why name was chosen
Internet still abuzz over name of new JC, Eunoia, pronounced 'yoo-noh-iea'. JC's Principal explains the thinking behind it in an email interview
It became the most searched term on Google.sg on Tuesday, after the announcement about Singapore's newest junior college, Eunoia JC.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said the name was derived from a Greek word and pronounced as 'yoo-noh-iea'. Officials said it means "beautiful thinking and goodwill towards others".
But netizens were far from impressed. "Pretentious" was among the kinder adjectives used in online reaction to the news.
People have also started questioning the official version of its pronunciation and meaning.
Facebook user Edward Yong said that MOE got both the meaning and the pronunciation of the word wrong.
The New Paper asked people familiar with the language to weigh in on the issue.
Author and Greek national Kostas Ikonomopoulos, 39, said: "In the years before Christ, the word could have been pronounced slightly differently, but today, it is pronounced 'ev-nee-ah', with the first 'e' as in 'epic'."
Both he and a Greek and Latin teacher, Mr Tai Yu Hsiang, 36, who has his own language school here, noted that the meaning of the word means "favouring someone or extending goodwill to someone".
Mr Ikonomopoulos said:"It is very rarely used to mean just good thinking or a positive state of mind.
"It is quite common to hear of it or read it in connection with sports.
"A referee might be accused of treating one team more 'favourably' than the other, or winds might be described as 'favourable' for a running or sailing event, " he said.
Eunoia JC principal Cheang Mei Heng had said that the name was chosen from at least 200 others and it best expressed "the collective aspirations for the College and the students".
She said: "The name itself may be rather new to many of us even though it is an English word.
"It has Greek origins, but the concepts contained within it are universal and timeless.
"I've tested the name personally with many people and while many gave me a blank look initially, these turned into appreciative nods after I (had) the opportunity to share the meaning behind the word with them.
"My team and I have pledged to become ambassadors of the name and we hope that there will be many opportunities ahead for us to share our story with each and every Singaporean we meet."
She said she was intrigued by the level of interest generated since the announcement.
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She said that while some may not like the name, they encourage others to "look behind the name" for its meaning, which "encapsulates a beautiful aspiration that stakeholders have formulated for the students after several engagement sessions".
Vivienne Lim, Chairperson of CHIJ Board Of Management said that she was not surprised at the public's reaction to the name.
"It was also my initial reaction. But having reflected on it, I appreciate the meaning, which embodies the school's values and its aspirations for its students. Over time, the substance of the school, what it delivers for the students, is what will truly make the name of the school, and that should be what we focus on.
Eunoia JC principal Cheang Mei Heng explains why the name was chosen in an e-mail interview with The New Paper
What do you think of the school name?
When naming the College, we were deliberate in asking for suggestions from as many stakeholders as possible, and in addition to the actual names suggested, we were actually more interested in their thinking, beliefs and vision behind the names.
Through the various engagement sessions held, it became apparent to us that our stakeholders wanted a name that was inherently meaningful.
From a list of names, we narrowed it down and after testing some names out with various stakeholders, we chose Eunoia as it best expresses the collective aspirations for the College and the students.
The name itself may be rather new to many of us even though it is an English word.
It has Greek origins, but the concepts contained within it are universal and timeless.
I’ve tested the name personally with many people, and while many gave me a blank look initially, these turned into appreciative nods after I was given the opportunity to share the meaning behind the word with them.
My team and I have pledged to become ambassadors of the name, and we hope that there will be many opportunities ahead for us to share our story with each and every Singaporean we meet.
How do you feel about netizens mocking/ making fun of Eunoia JC? Does it seem like a bad start for the school?
We anticipated some creative expressions of the name, though we must say that we are intrigued by the level of interest that has been generated since the announcement!
Many have jokingly thanked me for the entertainment – I told them that there were some really creative and interesting puns that were sure to provide light-hearted moments for many, even for those of us within the College team.
But I am very clear about one thing – in entertainment, we laugh, but in education, we learn.
I would say, most of the netizens have no negative intentions, just like we never had any ulterior intentions in naming our school – why would we want to do that?
Why would we want to be pretentious, or why would we deliberately want to cause confusion to taxi uncles?
We only had one single intention, and that is to have a name with a good meaning behind it.
Why not follow the traditional naming convention like most of our JCs?
Eunoia means beautiful thinking and goodwill to others.
Its meaning points toward one of the key tenets of the College vision — of how a “Thinker with Heart” is essentially someone with a beautiful mind and a deep reservoir of goodwill towards others around him.
The name represents the College’s commitment towards nurturing every graduate of the College in exemplifying a strong sense of eunoia, which would act as a solid anchor for his pursuit of excellence as a “Youth with Purpose” and a “Leader with Courage”.
One interesting detail about the word ‘eunoia’ is that it is the shortest English word containing all five vowels, signifying the completeness and well-roundedness that will characterise the graduates of the College.