Inside The Bills

The answer to the apostrophe in ‘Unga

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2013 – 5:10 pm

For those that may not have noticed, Bills new guard J.J. ‘Unga has an apostrophe at the front of his surname. Buffalobills.com asked ‘Unga about the apostrophe and how common it might be in the Tongan language.

‘Unga was born and raised in California, but both of his parents are native to Tonga. As for the apostrophe it’s common in the Tongan language.

“It emphasizes the ‘U,’” ‘Unga said in explaining the presence of the apostrophe. “Instead of saying, ‘Ung-guh’ it’s ‘Oohng-ah.’ Just more emphasis on the ‘U’ and less on the ‘G.’ If you see it in the word, the next letter will be emphasized.”

‘Unga admits he grows tired of correcting people on the pronunciation. Most Americanize it and just say ‘Ung-gah.’ The lineman politely corrects most of the offenders often repeating it twice.

The apostrophe is often viewed as a typo and simply ignored. Upon receiving his player jersey in Buffalo he noticed the apostrophe was missing from his name on the back.

“They didn’t know so I had to tell them and they added a last minute apostrophe,” said ‘Unga smiling. “It might be little, but to me it’s a big thing.”


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