31 Oct


Who taught: Jessy and Ashka



Hey there! How have you been? I really wish all of you are doing well. Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast of the U.S. and a lot of people are without power now. Hope my friends are fine there.

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. A few weeks ago, Jessy and I were taking a walk and we talked about things we are missing, living in a small city. So, Pittsburgh is still a city with around 300,000 people. But, to me, that is nothing. Why? it is because I am from one of the cities near Seoul, Korea and my previous work was in Seoul.

The population of Seoul itself is around 11 million and if we consider the metropolitan area, the population is around 25 million. It is a huge city. To give you an idea about how big it is, it is bigger than New York City. There are a lot of things we used to enjoy, especially at night. Don’t get me wrong. We do like Pittsburgh a lot.

So, the thing we talked about is that it is very different living in Pittsburgh from living in Seoul. When we used to live in Seoul, we call people from small cities or towns “Chon-Nom(촌놈)” in Korean. “What is Chon-Nom in English? What people call people from rural areas in the U.S.?”

Jessy and I did some researches and found this word, “hillbilly.” Let me guess its etymology! I think this is referring to a person whose name is bill (one of the most common names just like Joe) and who lives on a hill. How perfect is it? Hope my guess is correct.

Anyway, after that conversation, I thought I would remember it. But, I forgot.

Luckily, Ashka posted the picture that you see here on her facebook timeline. Wow! Wow! It was a moment of eureka for me. Thank you, Ashka, for posting this because this totally refreshed my memory. And, of course, I do need to thank Hillary and Bill Clinton. Than you guys! Because of you guys, now I feel pretty confident that I will remember this word.

What do you think? Actually, if you yourself are a hillbilly, then you should totally know this word. Hey, after all, I could consider myself as a hillbilly too. Pittsburgh is a small city. One may argue this but at least to me this is true. 🙂

09 Aug

break a leg

Who taught: Ashka

Break a leg (Source: http://www.risingsunofnihon.com)

One of the good ways of learning English is reading good and well-written articles. In that sense, I have a very good article that you can read today. My friend, Jerome, posted this on his facebook and I think this is really worth reading and at least spend sometime to think about it.

Last Friday, I sent an email to my friends at my previous company to say good bye. Almost all of them responded me, wishing me good luck. Once again, thank you, my friends! I wish the best of luck to you too.

Ashka also responded but, in her email, she did not say “good luck.” Instead, she said, “break a leg!!!”

Well, to be honest, I had no idea about what it would mean. The only guess I had was like, “Do your best till you break your leg!”

But, ironically, this expression means, “Good luck!” There is a dedicated wikipedia page for this expression. On the page, you can find so many different theories of the etymology of the expression. Among them, I think the second one, Bowing, makes most sense.

For your information, here is the second etymology, Bowing.

This theory is thought to be an extension of the Traditional Theory. For the curtain call, when actors bow or curtsy, they place one foot behind the other and bend at the knee, “breaking” the line of the leg. In theatre, pleased audiences may applaud in which time encore bows sometimes occur. On Broadway this is considered the highest compliment to an actor.

Which one do you think makes most sense?

And…. I think you should be careful using this expression to any non-native English speakers. They would think you are crazy when you use this. For example, if your non-native English speaker friend is about to do interview and you say, “Break a leg!”, they would be like, “What? Do you really want me to break my leg? I cannot go to the interview. What are you saying there?”

Don’t you think so? This would really happen. But, Ashka, I know what you mean. Thank you so much wishing me luck! I will do my best out there and I will miss you. Let me know when you are around the town so that we could hang out!

13 Jul

shotgun wedding

Whose story : Ashka

Wedding Kiss

Based on what I have observed till now, I think the following is a normal process for a couple get married in America.

1. Start to see each other.

2. Fall in love and spare a lot of time together.

3. Live together (This step could take a few years.)

4. If a couple is still together after a few years of living, then, at some point, a guy pops the question. (Or maybe a lady is the one who pops the question.)

5. Once they are engaged, they start to plan on wedding but it could also take around a year till they really have a wedding ceremony.

Again, this would not be typical case but I have seen bunch of couples going through these steps. Especially, it is very typical to take around a year from proposal to wedding. My friend, Ashka who just got engaged a few weeks ago, decided to have her wedding this coming Labor day (Sep 6th 2010) weekend. It is a quite short period from engagement to wedding. So, whenever she tells her friends that she is going to marry this Labor day weekend, they ask her, “What? That early! Don’t say this is a shotgun wedding! Is it?” Here is a very interesting expression, shotgun wedding! I personally think this is very American one because it indicates the use of a gun. You all know that people can buy guns in America. For your better understanding, here is a good definition I got from Ashka.

A shotgun wedding takes place when the girl gets pregnant while dating a boy and the boy is not too sure about marrying her. So, the father of the girl steps in and uses a shotgun to scare the boy and talk him into marrying his daughter. Basically saying you got her pregnant so you better marry her or I am going to shoot you!

Well, this is not happening now. But I do believe this used to happen in the past and it became an expression.

For the similar case, we, Korean, have a very different expression. 속도위반(Sok-Do-Wui-Ban) Its literal translation is “speed limit violation.” It originates from traffic law. If you violate speed limit, there is a higher chance that you can get into an accident. By accident, I mean a guy knocks a girl up. That is a big accident because there are not that many days a woman can get pregnant in a year. So, Korean people would say, “Is this marriage a Sok-Do-Wui-Ban or what?”, if a couple tries to marry all of a sudden. What a different expression for a similar situation! Isn’t it?

Ashka, many conguratulations on your wedding! Wish the best of luck in your life ahead! By the way, are you sure it is not a shotgun wedding or Sok-Do-Wui-Ban? 🙂

08 Jul

the question

Whose story: Ashka


Once again, Article is one of the hardest things in English. Here is a good example for you! The question! Do you know what it is?

Yesterday, my friend, Ashka, sent me a story about her experience which happened in her conversation with her friend who is in France. In her talk with her, she said, “Ray popped the question.” Her French friend did not understand it, which is not a surprise at all. It would be hard to understand by just this simple sentence here. If there is a little more context, it would be a little bit easier for non-native English speakers to understand. Pop the question means to ask someone to marry. Thus, the question would mean the official proposal of marriage. Were you even able to guess? I bet you were not.

FYI, there is even an USA Today news article with this expression, 10 great places to pop the question. Suppose that you say “pop a question” instead of “pop the question”! Then it has a total different meaning. It would mean just like coming up with any question you want to ask.

Since I mentioned Ashka, I have a very inspiring story about her. She came to U.S. from Poland when she was around 19. She went to a college here in U.S. Back then, she was not able to speak English at all. I mean really at all. So, she had really hard time to pronounce correctly and understand all of the slangs her American friends use. (I will tell you what! Americans use a lot of slangs, especially in informal conversations, such as lunch time talks. It is so hard to understand them if you do not know what they mean.) She told me that her friends corrected her pronunciation and taught a lot of slangs. So, what she did was setting the highest goal. You know what it was. She decided to study and practice English a lot so that no Americans ever notice that she is from other countries. You know what? Her English now is flawless and I believe no one would think that she is from another country. At least I thought that she is born in America. Ashka, you are amazing! You are my inspiration! You should share your secret studying methodologies here. And, once again, many many congratulations for your engagement!

Here is today’s lesson for me and you!

Set the highest goal and never give up at all! Never!