07 Apr

keep up with the Joneses

Who taught: Jake

One of the big issues in Korea is education. Most parents are having a hard time and work hard to meet the cost that they spend on their children’s education. Even many of new married couples postpone to have a baby mostly because of the huge cost of education which will be incurred by having a child. Based on the CIA world factbook, South Korea ranked in 219th out of 223 countries in children per women rate (1.21). Are you curious about United States’ rank? It is 126th (2.05). Surprise, isn’t it?

Why there is that much cost? It is because of private education system. Almost all of the children go to at least two private institutes after their regular school hours to learn so many stuff, such as music instruments, languages, Taekwondo, etc. This situation is getting worse as they become teenagers. Parents need to hire private tutors for their children, mostly for mathematics, English, science, etc. Well, maybe you could say I would not do the same thing for my children? It is hard because if your children do not do the same thing with what other children do, they cannot make friends. Well, I think there is another reason. Parents do not want to fall behind what others do for their children. They would like to give their children at least the same opportunities that other children get.

There is an expression for this case in English. “Keep up with the Joneses!” Here…. the Joneses is an abstract word for representing the neighbors. For example, if your neighbors or friends bought a new luxurious German sedan like bimmer(BMW), then you feel like you should buy Mercedes. Well, if you actually bought a Mercedes for that reason, you are really keeping up with the Joneses. There is another similar expression that you can use. “Peer pressure!” I guess most parents feel peer pressure and, to keep up with the Joneses, spend a lot of money for their children’s education. Speaking of comparison of you and your neighbors, there is also very good one you can use. This expression is really common and you would hear this many times in America. I actually heard this expression today over lunch from my friends. “Grass is greener!” The full one is “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!” I guess you can get what it means by reading it. Yup, it means “for some reason, everything your neighbor has looks a lot better than what you have.” I know! We all do not want to admit it but it always sounds true. Even you have the same thing your friends have, you always feel like the ones your friends have better than yours. What a life! But, if we can learn how to be satisfied with what we have, we will be a lot more happier than now. Let’s pray, shall we? What? You do not want to pray. Hmm.. I really suggest you to go to church this Sunday.

31 Mar

fruits in phrases – Is apple winner?

From Monday till today of this week, my company has provided free lunches. During the lunch time, we also had sort of meetings. In the meetings, Scott made a series of presentations about our new consulting services. I found a very interesting one from the meetings. He used the same expression a few times, “Golden Nugget.” In the context, I believe it was supposed to mean something like “real good core value of a company.” Am I right? I will let our other Professional Services team members add their thoughts on this. Then, my curiosity killed me so that I had to look it up in a dictionary. Then, I found the following from the urban dictionary.

The First piece of excrement that comes of out after a long constipation allowing the persons bowels to empty.

Oh no! so gross! I hope he did not mean this one in the meetings. (Wait! Nobody laughed when he said this.) I was not able to find any other good definitions as I felt from the meeting. Which one is more correct and used by people?

Speaking of the expressions I heard from the company meetings, the other day, I heard this one, “low-hanging fruit.” This means some sort of goal or target you can achieve easily. I can guess the origin of the expression. Thinking of an apple tree, it is a lot easier to pick the low-hanging ones from the tree. Any fruits hung high, it requires a ladder and a lot of efforts.

But, then I had to make sure if this one is really safe for me to use in the future meetings I would participate. So, I looked it up. You know what I found in the urban dictionary. Check this out!

Girls who are somewhat hot – but not too hot, and who often work in posiitons of high public interaction but with low-barriers-to-entry, thus making them open and attractive targets on the one hand, but often self conscious and/or harboring self esteem issues on the other. This, as a whole, makes them susceptible and quite receptive to any overtures from the opposite sex. I.e., They are the easiest of fruit to pick.

What is wrong with the urban dictionary? Is this really something I can rely on? Andrew! I do not think urban dict is my friend any more. –)

Oh, there are other expressions that have fruits in it.

1. big apple : easy one! New York City! I have no idea about the origin of this one. Does anybody know?

2. apple bottom : I learned this one from Jessy. When she was working at a clothing store, there was a jeans brand. It was “apple bottom jeans.” They are for women. Can you guess what this means? Yeah, it describes women’s butt. But, not all of them. It should be looking good from back. I know it is personal. For example, all of the male coworkers of Jessy said, “Jessy, I do not think you have apple bottom.” Well, honey, I do think you have. You got THE apple bottom! 🙂

I guess apple is the Gold medal list when it comes to the expressions with fruits in it???

30 Mar


Who taught: Pete

This coming Thursday, my friends and I will play basketball after work. To organize this, I sent an email to them and, in the email, I used the expression I learned from Pete, “Let’s get this show on the road!” A few hours later, Pete came to my desk to help me out to fix the broken Korean issue in my blog and we fixed it. Yay! Then, I had to ask him, “So what do you think about my usage?” Pete told me, “Well, it is more suitable to use the expression when people are with you now to do something and they are dilly dally.” Well….. He suddenly realized that ‘dilly dally’ is something I would not know. Definitely, I did not know. He started to give me some other similar type of expressions. I think they are really useful. You would hear these kind of expressions a lot in America!

1. dilly-dally : messing around, waisting time.

Example : “Come on guys! You are so dilly-dally! Let’s get this show on the road! Get off your ass!”

Korean equivalent : 꾸물꾸물 (Ggu mul Ggu mul)

2. pitter-patter: hurry up!

Example : “We gotta pitter-patter!” (I guess you can use just as it is like “Pitter patter!”)

Korean equivalent : 빨랑 빨랑 (Bbal lang bbal lang)  This one is very special for Korean. You will hear this one so many times in Korea because Korean people are always busy and want to do something fast. One thing I had a real hard time when I first got to the U.S. was the slowness of any kind of services. For example, I went to the DMV to get the driver’s license test. Well, I had to wait for an hour or so. In Korea, this would never happen. If they are this much slow, people are going crazy and almost blow the place. So, if you go to Korea and if someone is very slow to serve you, say “Hey! Bbal lang bbal lang!” with very angry face. They will get it! 🙂

3. wishy-washy : indecisive or ineffective

Example : Well you will see this in newspapers so many times when they describe any politicians who is not decisive in some area or topic.

Korean equivalent : 우유부단 (Woo yoo bu dan) This one is originated from Chinese.

4. roly-poly : little overweight (?) Not sure this means someone really overweight or someone like chubby. By hearing it, I feel like this is more like chubby, right?

Korean equivalent : 포동포동 (Po dong Po dong) I would say this is not really insulting to anyone. Especially, if a baby is a little chubby, you can use it to the baby like “Oh, your baby is Po dong Po dong!”

5. willy-nilly : all over the place in a bad way

Example : I cannot come up with one. Could you provide one?

Korean equivalent : 오지랖 넓다(O zi rab Neol Da) This is hard to pronounce. Don’t try it! 🙂

So, I think these expressions are onomatopoeic words or mimetic words. Am I right? There must be so many more than these. You should all help me out! And, also, can I make up by myself like…. hmm ….. “ding dang”? I have not decided what it should mean.

28 Mar

prepositions in english – You gotta feel it!

Yesterday, Jessy and I went to Borders. (For the people who do not know what Borders is. In America, it is hard to find small bookstores around a town. There are two major bookstore brands. One is Barnes & Noble and the other one is Borders. They are almost like one of the places people make an appointment to meet up and hang around. Barnes & Noble has Starbucks coffee shop in it whereas Borders has Seattle’s best coffee. Funny thing is Starbucks bought Seattle’s best a few years ago.) Well, back to the main point! So, I was reading a magazine and, in the magazine, I found the following quotes by Albert Einstein.

Common sense is a collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18.

Interestingly, from the church bulletin I got today, there was a story about a result done by Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs survey.

70 percent of Americans believe divorce is morally acceptable. That’s an 11-point increase from seven years ago. Two generations of high divorce rates have made divorce the norm in America.

So, basically, a social symptom has been happening for a while makes a big impact on a social common sense, or social norm. It was just my two cents on an issue of the social change. (Good usage of “just my two cents“! Huh!)

OK…. So… Today’s topic. It is a preposition. I am pretty sure that preposition is one of the hardest things in learning or using English. Why is it hard? I think it is because for non-native English speakers it is hard to feel them when they hear or speak. Like in, on, at, over, through, etc….. Having said that, let me take one example of prepositions with time stuff! What if I say the following to my friends.

I was thinking about going to Washington, D.C. to enjoy cherry blossom festival sometime __ April 2010 and I finally decided to go __ April 3, 2010 and will be staying there __ April 5, 2010.

What would you put in the first, second and third empty places? I am not talking about grammar. Growing up in South Korea, I was basically forced to memorize all of those grammars. It did not work out well. So, before you think about the grammar of English, you should be able to feel. I mean if you ask these kind of questions to American people, they will fill them out really easily. But then, if you ask, “Why did you choose those prepositions respectively?” Most of them would say, “I don’t know. I just feel that is correct.” Funny but it is true. If you do not feel each of them and just try to memorize the grammar, you will find yourself thinking too much to pick the correct ones from your brain every time you speak. That is what makes you really hard to speak.

A few examples I try to have some feelings whenever I happened to use them in English are;

1. on : you should feel this one like something specific or like fixed. In other words, something is stuck with something.

2. in : it feels like I am in some sort of long hallway. I can still see the starting point and the ending point of the hallway but still not that as much specific as “on”

3. through : I think something very sharp and long like an arrow. At the same time, I feel more emphasis on the finishing point with the sharp edge just like the arrow. Something starts from a specific point and ends with a sharp point.

“OK! now what would you put in the empty places in the sentence?” I know this would be easy for many of you but they are just a few out of so many. So, try to think some sort of images when you hear or use the prepositions so that it almost like stuck in you mind. And, try to pay attention what American people actually use in their sentences and mimic them. Hope this could improve your proper usage of prepositions!

I am curious how American friends think. “Do you also have those feelings when you use prepositions?”

26 Mar

down the rabbit hole

Who taught: Sangeetha and Alex

I feel like I have gone a long series about “animals in phrases.” In fact, there are so many phrases where you can find animals in it in American English. You know what the most popular animal is. I think it is “horse.” I mentioned about this to Jake and he told me he thinks it is because of American history of being with horses long time.

Let me summarize the expressions that have horse in it I learned!

1. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

2. from the horse’s mouth

3. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

4. Trojan horse

5. hung like a ho…. (This is still very embarrassing to say even I mentioned it in my previous post! So,I am adding dots instead of the full one here.)

I learned another useful one with animal in it today. It is “down the rabbit hole” This expression can be used when you are about to do something hard or something you do not know how it will end or progress. So, let’s say you are going to get married! Then, I would say, “Well, my friend, you are about to go down the rabbit hole! Good luck with that!” Don’t get me wrong, though! I am saying you should take marriage very seriously and be prepared for so many different aspects of it. Don’t you agree?

The other thing I learned the other day is “make a mountain out of molehill” This is one of the expressions I actually get the meaning as I hear it for the first time. What do you think? Can you get it? It means basically “exaggerate.” For example, you have some bad experiences with your customer at your work today and, because of it, you are worried about you might be getting into a big trouble. Then, I would say “Come on, don’t make a mountain out of the molehill! It is not that important. Just, get over it! It could happen to anybody.” One thing I like about this expression is that this one has got rhyme when you speak. Try it now! Come on, say it to you! Can you feel it? I think that is another fun part of learning English or maybe different languages.

So, don’t be afraid of getting into a new thing. It is all yours. My friend Andrew says “You cannot get it with that attitude! Hey, Believe it and achieve it!” So, my friend out there, “Believe it and Achieve it!” Learning English is fun!! Yay!!

Good night and have a great weekend! ….. and see you soon!