Apo (අපෝ in Sinhala and அப்போ in Tamil) is a great word. Usually pronounced as ’apō’ with a slightly extended ‘o’, it’s an expression of dismay. Although ‘Apo’ is usually used to capture a disappointing surprise, it’s not entirely unusual to hear it being used to respond to an amusing or pleasant moment of bewilderment. The difference often lies in the stretching or shortening of the syllables ‘a’ and ‘o’. When both syllables are short, it would usually mean a little shock (perhaps even a good one) like your Aunty insistently serving you another spoonful of her cooking. Keeping the ‘a’ short and extending the ‘o’ would mean a seriously bad shock—like a coconut falling on your head—with the intensity of the emotion being directly proportionate to how long you choose to extend the ‘o’.
We love this word, because no matter how it’s pronounced, it projects exactly what it means—that something isn’t how it ought to be.
✺ In this typographic rendition of apo, we added two ‘a’s to stress on the pronunciation that’s often used when the word is uttered to reflect a disappointing surprise, even mild contempt. Makes a great print for a bathroom wall, or a T-shirt to protest your government’s bad decisions (WhatsApp +94777647096 to order this as a T-shirt).
✺ Screen-printed, single-coloured print (A2 size)
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