Game Of The Century (Old Wording)

, , , , | | Friendly | July 24, 2019

I am invited to my friend’s house for a board game night. My friend is from India, as are my parents. Both my friend and I speak Telugu. My friend is from Chennai, and so he also speaks Tamil. 

Before I show up, my friend texts me that one of his Tamilian friends will be there who doesn’t speak Telugu but does speak English, and asks if that is all right. I say that it is, because most of the guests weren’t Telugu anyway. 

I show up a little late, and when I get there, one of the other guests — a loud Kannadiga man — is yelling at the host, “What do you mean, he speaks English?” 

It turns out that the friend of the host had grown up in a poor neighborhood and so hadn’t learnt English in school, but instead learnt it through reading Charles Dickens, P. G. Wodehouse, and C. Rajagopalachari’s translation of the Mahabharata, meaning his English was archaic and full of half-remembered similes and poetic phrases. 

It was a very tough game night.

Easter With The Mansons

, , , , , , | | Related | July 20, 2019

(My four-year-old nephew has had some speech delay issues, part of this involving putting pauses in strange places in his sentences. On Easter at my in-laws, he comes up to me, very excited.)

Nephew: “Auntie [My Name], I know what I want to be when I grow up!”

Me: “Cool! What do you want to be?”

Nephew: “I want to cut people open–” *pauses for a good ten seconds* “–so I can help them!”

(Turns out he just didn’t know the word “surgeon” and had come up with a fairly accurate description to replace that word. And while I was ultimately relieved that he wanted to help people and knew about his delay, I have to admit I was internally asking myself if I was going to be interviewed in the future about if I knew my nephew was a serial killer of some sort.)

Falling Into The Upside Down

, , , , , | | Friendly | July 19, 2019

(My friends and I have gotten together for the weekend and my friend whose house we’re staying at can’t find her corkscrew. Since her parents live in the same complex, we go over to get their corkscrew. While we’re there, the weather starts getting nasty and raining hard, so the topic comes up about how we’d weather the storm if there was a tornado since the houses don’t have basements.)

Friend’s Mom: “I’d go hide in the crawl space.”

Friend #1: “We’d be safe in the bathtubs.”

Friend #2: “When it came up at school, I told my students I’d jump out the window and hope I didn’t crash through the grate below.”

Me: *mishearing* “What’s the Great Below?”

Friend #2: *laughing* “You know, grate? Like a piece of metal?”

Me: *laughing* “Yay for homonyms!”

Just Another American Tourist In America

, , , , | | Right | July 18, 2019

(In Hawai’i, you pronounce the words syllable by syllable, and apostrophes are consonants — they are called okina, or glottal stops. Most Ws are the V sound. For example, Hawai’i is pronounced “Ha-vy-ee,” but Waikiki is pronounced “Why-kee-kee.” I am ten, and I’ve just arrived, so I don’t know any of this. The taxi driver is taking us on the Like Like Highway.)

Me: “The Like Like Highway? So, you can only drive on here if you like-like someone?”

Driver: *laughs* “This is the Lee-keh Lee-keh Highway. But every tourist says that!”

(I’m so sorry.)

To Be Fair, That Makes Some People Go “Moo,” Too

, , , , , | | Learning | July 18, 2019

(I am an assistant junior preschool teacher. Our class consists of kids age eighteen months to three years. This happens while reviewing animals with a pair of twins in the class.)

Me: “[Twin Sister], what animal says, ‘moo’?”

Twin Sister: “Cow!”

Twin Brother: “Vodka!”

(The lead teacher and I go dead face, wondering where on earth a near two-year-old could hear the word “vodka” and say it with such clarity.)

Me: “Did he just say, ‘vodka’?”

Lead Teacher: “I think so. [Twin Brother], what animal says, ‘moo’?”

Twin Brother: “Vodka!” 

(He is clearly proud of himself because he thinks he said the right word. By the end of the day, my coworker leaves instructing me to tell the twin’s mother what her son said and ask if she knows why.)

Me: “So, [Twin Brother] said something today and we really don’t know where he heard it.”

Twin’s Mother: *shocked* “Oh, really? What was it?”

Me: “Well, we asked what animal says, ‘moo,’ and [Twin Sister] said, ‘cow,’ but [Twin Brother] said, ‘vodka.’”

Twin’s Mother: *sighing with relief* “Oh! He’s saying, ‘vaca.’ It’s Spanish for ‘cow.’ I’ve taught them a couple of words and numbers in Spanish.”