Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao (R) is trying to put an end to the debate -- over how to pronounce his last name.
The Republican congressman admitted in a half-serious press release on Friday that he has long struggled to watch his fellow lawmakers -- much less his own staff -- stumble through his short, deceiving surname.
But the "confusion" reached its breaking point this week, Cao jokingly explained, after President Barack Obama butchered the Republican's name twice during his town hall speech in the congressman's own state.
Cao mostly seems amused by Thursday's harmless error; he even "apologize[d] for the confusion" in his press release on Friday. But the Louisiana Republican also made sure to include for the president -- and all those equally bewildered by his last name -- a quick, funny tutorial on how to say it.
"I can understand your reluctance to accept such an absurd variation – surely no 'C,' in the history of language, has ever been pronounced as a 'G,'" he added. "And yet, through no fault of my own, my native Southern Vietnamese dialect evolved such that this absurd mockery of consonants is, in fact, reality."
The full release follow the jump:
Dear Constituents, Bloggers, Reporters, and fellow Lawmakers,
I humbly write you today to clarify the confusion surrounding my last name. In recent days, I have acknowledged the blush on the faces of television reporters, my fellow statesmen, my own interns, and even the President of the United States as they grasp frantically at the correct pronunciation and inevitably cast upon a hurried “Cow” or “Chow.”
And the minor embarrassments are nothing compared to the battles being waged in cyberspace. As I casually perused mentions of my name on Google this morning, I noticed no fewer than 10 angry arguments over blog forums and newspaper websites – all over the unfortunate discrepancy between the spelling and pronunciation of “Cao.” I beg of you, dear bloggers, lay down your keyboards. I am here to settle the debate.
My last name – Cao - is actually pronounced (drum-roll please…) “Gow.” It starts with a “G” and rhymes (as Amanda Carpenter quipped in the Washington Post) with “Pow.”
I can understand your reluctance to accept such an absurd variation – surely no “C,” in the history of language, has ever been pronounced as a “G.” And yet, through no fault of my own, my native Southern Vietnamese dialect evolved such that this absurd mockery of consonants is, in fact, reality.
Again, I apologize for the confusion, and I hope my address to you will help us to clear the air and start anew.
Anh (pronounced Anh) Joseph (pronounced Joseph) Cao (pronounced? You guessed it! Gow)
P.S. On second thought, never mind. Just call me Joseph.