Girl About Globe | T8 from Pyongyang

Linda Kennedy

If there’s something coming at you from the sky, and it’s from North Korea, no need to worry. It’s just a typhoon.

Hong Kong Observatory recently tweeted ‘additions to the list of tropical cyclone names’.

All typhoons are labelled in accordance with suggestions from different countries, and the names have special meanings. The recent Roke is a Chamorro man’s name, from Guam (Didn’t know that when your shoes were getting ruined in the rain afterwards, did you?)

New names are chosen to replace cyclones which caused considerable loss of life. So, out went Soudelor, Mujigae, Melor and Koppu. And in came…well, what are the new names, approved by Asia’s cloud bosses, aka the United Nations Economic and Social commission for Asia, and Pacific/World Meteorological Organization Typhoon Committee? Here’s the list:

Saudel, meaning a trusted guard or soldier. This name was suggested by Micronesia.

Koguma, what the Japanese call the star Little Bear.

Cempaka, a flower from Malaysia. (yes, another Malaysia name. They’re a meteorological powerhouse)

And, er, Surigae, suggested by the DPRK. It means ‘a kind of eagle’ but that’s not the important bit. Are lines of communication sufficiently open with Pyongyang that they get to name potentially destructive forces of nature? It would appear so.

Further investigation in this atmospheric area reveals that there’s a lot of names-in-waiting for tropical cyclones – in addition to the new ones – already contributed by cities, SARS and countries across Asia. From Macau, the names include ‘lin-fa’, the city flower. And ‘Bebinca’, the Macanese milk pudding. From Hong Kong, names include Dolphin and Lionrock. The length of the list rather makes one wonder: why not change the policy wherein it’s just cyclones that get named? There are plenty of other weather extremes that could be given a backstory. Why not ‘Hot Weather Warning Dolphin?’  ‘Amber Rainstorm Milk Pudding?’

Controversy over names is bit of a theme at the moment. In the UK, the bargain store Poundland is set to sell its ‘own brand’ version of a Toblerone. The Poundland pretender comes in the same triangular chunks, with similar packaging, but the name is Twin Peaks.

Which all got me thinking. Cyclones get named by countries: how about companies naming other famous natural concepts of Hong Kong? Like hikes. The ‘Twin Peaks Twin Peaks’? It would raise brand awareness of a new chocolatey snack, and provide energy. Or rest zones? ‘Picnic’ area.

Names sure seem to matter. The proof is Celine Tam, a nine-year-old force of nature, who went from Hong Kong to #AGT stardom on social media. That hashtag stands for America’s Got Talent, where Celine sang ‘The Heart Will Go On’ and won smiles and plaudits from all the judges including Simon Cowell.

This was serious social media fame. Billboard tweeted: ‘Nine-year-old stuns #AGT with Celine Dion cover.’

And JustJared – the site with up to the minute coverage of today’s hottest young stars – was as super-excited. It tweeted: ‘Nine-year-old singer Celine Tam (who was named after Celine Dion) sings “My Heart Will Go On” for HYPERLINK “”#AGT audition!

She even won a #goosebumps from one viewer.

‘Awesome take on one for the most icons songs of @celinedion #goosebumps’

Celine Tam was named by her parents after Celine Dion. She then went on to success singing a Celine Dion song. Coincidence? Fate being influenced by her name?  If so, what next? Will a typhoon, because it’s named by North Korea, turn out to be a lot worse than we thought? Would ‘Hot Weather Warning Dolphin’ delight and do leaps?

Incidentally, Celine Tam’s sister is called Dion Tam. Will she just sing the second verses?

Categories Opinion