05 Mar

saucer

Who taught: Sara at a local coffee shop

Hello, my friends out there… It’s been a while. Sorry for being absent for so long! Over the last few months, I had too many irons in the fire but it is all great. I enjoy every moment. Hope all of you are doing well!

Often, I go to a local coffee shop to work. Usually, I order a small Americano. In fact, Sara at the coffee shop knows me and what I want. As soon as I walk in, she immediately starts to make one Americano for me. No need to even talk or order. So simple.

But, at first, there was a time that I was not sure what she was talking about. Ordering something to eat and drink is not that simple for non-native English speakers. Here is the conversation we had at first.

Me: “Can I have a small Americano, please?”

Sara: “Sure, do you want regular or decaf?”

Me: “Regular is fine with me.”

Sara: “What size?”

Me: “Small, please!”

Sara: “Single or Double?” (At this point, some of you might be confused. Well, this maybe is an item for another post but, simply speaking, this is about the amount of coffee to brew. Again, ordering something to drink is not easy.)

Me: “Single, please.”

Sara: “For here or to go?” (Again, you might be confused. No one uses full sentences when it comes to ordering foods.)

Me: “For here, please.”

Sara: “Room for cream?” (How about this question? Tricky, huh?)

Me: “Yes, please. In fact, a lot of room.” (I like my Americano with less water in it.)

Sara then makes the coffee and ready to server in a small cup.

Sara: “Wanna saucer too?”

So, at that point, I was lost because I did not know the word.

Me: “Sorry?”

Sara picks up a small plate to put the coffee on, saying “saucer?”

saucer

Saucer (source: www.prima-coffee.com)

That is the moment I realized what a saucer means. Would they ever call it “plate”? I do not know. Maybe…. Could you help me, my American friends?

Well, this happened a long time ago but I still do remember that moment vividly. Frankly, it is my daily life. Every day, I learn new words. Literally, every single day! I do not think this will ever end.

So hard to be good at English.

Speaking of saucer, there is another related expression, flying saucer. Can you guess what it would be? A hint is that you want to think of the shape of a saucer. What is a thing that is flying in the sky and its shape is like a saucer? That’s right. It is UFOs.

Well, next time you visit the USA and go to a coffee shop to order, remember these questions. They will come in handy.

I have always been wondering what would happen if I say all of what I want even before they ask.

As soon as you stand in front of a barista, you say the following.

A small Americano with a single shot and a lot of room for cream. It is for here but I do not need a saucer.

They might say, “Slow down, dude!” or they might like you. Give it a try and let me know.

Happy learning!

23 Aug

show one the ropes

Who taught: Lujo

learn the ropes

learn the ropes (source: http://www.sailbaltimore.org/learn-the-ropes/)

Every summer, I co-advise two Practicum projects which last 9 weeks. It is fun, working with bright students and other faculty members to solve very interesting and unique real-world problems. This summer, I worked with Jeff and Lujo. It was Lujo’s first time to be involved in advising these types of projects. Over the time, we have discussed and learned a lot from each other. It was great working with him. Yesterday was the last day of those projects and the team we advised won the third prize. I was happy as much as the students in the team were. Unfortunately, Lujo was not able to be there to witness the final presentation and the award announcement due to some conflicts. I am sure he would be very happy to see it.

So, I emailed him as soon as the announcement was made to let him know that the team won the third prize. In his response, he used the following sentence, “Thanks for showing me the ropes.” 

From the context, I was able to understand what he meant but that was my first time to see this expression.

Well, if I were to ask you about what you think, you would also be able to get it, I guess. As usual, I decided to dig more into about the expression. Like many other expressions, this one is of nautical origin. In the old sailing days, there were so many ropes and any new recruit needed to learn how to tie knots and which rope to control to perform a specific action, etc.

With that said, there are three major expressions to remember.

1. learn the ropes

2. know the ropes

3. show one the ropes

Here is an easy way to remember these, at least for me.

I, as an experienced employee who knows the ropes in the organization, need to show a new employee the ropes so that he/she can learn the ropes and eventually knows the ropes himself/herself.

How is it? Easy, isn’t it? I feel like each one of the ropes in the picture here is a new English expression to learn. It never ends. So, good luck with learning the ropes and hope I can show you the ropes.

P.S. : I realize that I did write another post about “learn the ropes” but did not get to know “show one the ropes” at that time.

16 Apr

dressed to the nines

Who taught: Tami

dress to the nines

dress to the nines

A few weeks ago, it was Easter. In Korea, people do celebrate but not as a family. Some people go to churches, participating some events.

On Easter, people here not only go to churches but also spend a day or two together with their family. In fact, if anyone goes to a church once a year, Easter would be it. Also, when they go, they dress really well. I remember I did not wear a suit on my first Easter in the U.S. and I was embarrassed by all of the other people at the chapel because they all looked really nice.

Now that I am talking about dressing well, let me introduce a new expression I learned from Tami the other day. I am so thankful that I have friends who are willing to spend some time to teach me and discuss with me those expressions.

She sent an email to me, “Here is a new one for you. Dress to the nines.”

As usual, I tried hard to think about what it would mean but could not think of any good definition of this expression. Can you? What do you think it means?

So, I wrote down, “dress to the 99999999999999999999999”

What the heck this would mean? Why nine? What about 8 or 7?

Every time I think about these expressions, I do some extensive researches and this time Tami helped me out. Out of a few different ones, I personally like this one because it is simple and makes me to remember this expression better.

Well, nine is considered the perfect number – in numerology, etc – so, 9 could be used to mean dress really nicely.

So, I just gave you the definition of the expression. I guess people dress to the nines on Easter here in the U.S.

In addition to that, here is another one Tami told me.

When I was young…er…- my Mom, who is English – used this phrase regularly – when I would attend some pageant functions, I would ask her opinion on what to wear – she has great fashion sense- and she would suggest getting “dressed to the hilt!!

Tami also told me that “dressed to the hilt” originated from the United Kingdom when on formal royal occasions, royalties and other monarchies wore Court Dress with gilt hilt” ; so when they say , you are dressed to the hilt, it means you are dressed like royalty ready to attend a royal occasion – in short, you are well dressed.

Aha… awesome to know these ones. I will use this expression on Easter next year to my friends. “Hey, I dressed to the hilt today. Do you like my suit?”

You should try too. Now, my next question is “Can I dress to the eights?” I think my usual dress code is “dressed to the ones.” :)

Oh.. I almost forgot. How about your wedding? You did dress to the nines and nine.nines? Right?

01 Apr

rediscovering a word series 6: rug

Who taught: Audrey

toupee rug

toupee rug

I just sent an email to my coworker, Amber, and made a dummy mistake. When I meant to say, “Thank you very much, Amber! – Terry,” I wrote, “Thank you very much, Terry!”

These two mean so different. How dummy does it sound? I was thanking myself. Arghhh….

Luckily, I realized my mistake very quickly and sent another email to her to clarify. She understood and gave me an example where a comma can make a big difference.

“Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!” The only difference is a comma here but they man very different, right, like my mistake?

English…. English…. How can I not love you?

Anyway, today, I want to continue the series of rediscovering a word. Today’s word is “rug.”

 

So, what is a rug?

A rug is a floor covering of shaggy or woven material, typically not extending over the entire floor. It’s similar to carpet but there is a difference. You want to read this post to understand the difference.

Great… Well…. Let me ask again! What is a rug? I know.. I already told you what it is. But, there is another definition.

I am a man. When a bold man wants to cover his bold head, they would wear a thing. That is “toupee.”

Well, when you are in front of those men, you want to be careful about saying “rug” because rug also means toupee. A few days ago, I was watching an episode of a TV show, Rules of Engagement. Audrey in the show used this word to mean “toupee” that another guy was wearing but I had a hard time to understand why it was supposed to be funny because she and her husband did talk about a rug for their apartment a few seconds ago.

You may think you can speak English? But, until you live here in the U.S., you do not know how hard English can be.

23 Mar

hershey squirts

Who taught: Max

SOAK_MO_C_^_ARTISTS

squirts a water pistol

Do you like chocolate? I do. Also, I live in Pennsylvania. What is a big deal of living in PA?

Well, I am very sure that you all have ever eaten some chocolates from Hershey’s. There is a town called Hershey in PA where the company has its headquarter. I am not sure what is first, the town or the company? I have never been to it which is a shame. I really should. Maybe, sometime this year.

Let me shift gears! A few weeks ago, my dog, Max, ate four hard-boiled eggs while we were not around. Do you guys know that guilty look that dogs have when they did something wrong? I saw that on that day. Personally, I think it is dog’s poker face. “What could go wrong? He got bunch of protein. That should be good for him.” That’s what I thought.

But, that evening, he had diarrhea. Gross!

Here is the question! What is the connection between hershey and diarrhea? Take a moment to think about it. Hope you are not reading this while eating something. :)

So….. did you get it? That’s right. They have the same color. While writing, I am having some chocolates. Yummy!

There is the last touch to come up with a perfect expression to mean diarrhea. We cannot just say “hershey” to mean diarrhea.

Now, time to think about how things come out of your body when you are experiencing diarrhea. Well, I saw that from Max. It squirts. The best way you can remember the word, “squirt,” is to think about water coming out from a water pistol. Isn’t it perfect? Look at the picture I added here. Can you get it?

What else you can do other than combining “hershey” (color) and “squirts” (action) to mean diarrhea? This is a pure perfection. Someone was a genius.

Here is your task to do: From now on, try to use “hershey squirts” when you have outbreaks of diarrhea.

P.S.: I have always had a hard time to spell “diarrhea” correctly. How about you? Don’t you think it is hard to spell?