Thursday, January 19, 2006


Until I was about eighteen, I believed that the air conditioner in the car was called the air corn. It never occurred to me to question this incontrovertible fact, despite my perfect command of the English language.

"Dear husband, please turn on the air corn." my mother would say in a mix of Korean and English, to which a blast of cool air would fill the car. Of course, the air corn is actually the air con, which is all the same thing anyhow.

Or at least I think so.

I was sure I'd learned my lesson, but a few years later, my dad's pen club became his fan club...or so I thought.

There are a number of reasons why I assumed this to be the case. In the Korean language, there are only 24 letters, 14 of which are consonants. The L and the R in English blend into 1 sound, the G and the K blend into one sound, and the P and the F blend into another sound. Growing up, apples were affles and of course, the pen club, became the fan club.

OK, so I thought my dad was famous. At least in Korea. C'mon! He does have published books of poetry, and is very well known in the community. It's an honest mistake! My mom had a good laugh at me for that one.

I vowed to NEVER be fooled by this again! Boy was I wrong.

When we were in Palm Springs a few weeks ago, my dad pointed at these beautiful flowers, and exclaimed, "BOUGAIN-BILLIA!!"

"Bougain-billia?" I thought doubtfully. I'm no botanist, but this can't be right.

Later in the day, as I was flipping through a magazine, I saw a picture of some similar looking flowers with the caption tubular verbenas. The wheels started turning in my head, and I became convinced that Tubular Verbena had somehow been magically translated into Bougain-Billia by my dad's Korean accent.

Tubular Verbena - Bubular Berbenia - Bougain-Billia. Can't you hear it? I sure can. And so could my sister and brother. We teased my parents mercilessly about this all week, and laughed to the point of tears.

At the end of the week, my mom entered the condo and triumphantly exclaimed, "it IS Bougain-Billia!" and showed me a piece of paper with the word bougainvillea written on it.

I'm not sure what to say.


Amanda said...

That's kinda funny. I never really comment on anyone's blog but for some reason I felt like commenting here. By the way, I hope you won't be mad if I write my 100 things on my blog. You can find it because I left my identity. Or you can comment and tell me I suck. Just kidding... (hopefully you won't) I just don't know when I will get to it...

angela said...

My family is British, and my Nana has...well...modified various common phrases.

For years, my mother (and thus her children) believed "never look a gift horse up the ASS" [I believe it's supposed to be MOUTH??] to be the correct version. It wasn't until she was an adult that someone corrected her (after, of course, MUCH hearty laughter at her expense).

I too have learned to question words and phrases often uttered by my British relatives. But most of the time, the results of their wrong-ness is simply hilarious!

JoJo said...

i laughed out loud when i read this!!

shellz said...

Hi Jojo!! My parents are a source of endless amusement for me...but of course, I love'em...they're sooo cute!!!

Blanktoast said...

For me.. it was "soap" for soup.. "pop chops" for pork chops and "scope" for scoop... gotta love it.

Oh yeah, I clicked on a RANDOM blog and found this.. you should check the latest blog topic out..