18 Oct


Who taught: Kara and Jake



In everyday life here in the U.S., I hear a lot of words I had never even seen when I was studying English in Korea. I am very positive it is because my focus of the study was literary English.

So, I would say colloquial English can be a whole different animal for you to experience once you live in a English-speaking country.

Maybe it is only me. But, many of those words used colloquially sound very funny.

A few days ago, it was Jake’s birthday. Well, that’s what Facebook told me. On his timeline, Kara said, “Bday smooch!”

I thought to myself, “Hmm… smooch. that sounds funny. What does it mean?” One of the things I do when I hear or see a new word is try not to look it up before I really think about what it could mean.

My guess with regard to this word was that it is simply a way to call your close friend. You know, like “dude” or “buddy.”

Being pretty positive about my guess, I also wrote on Jake’s timeline, “Happy Bday smooch! What’s smooch?”

I know what you guys are thinking now. What a mistake! Two days ago, I caught up with my friends including Jake and he asked for me to actually smooch him. Of course, I did not. Get your mind out of the gutter! Can you guess what it means? Let me give you a hint. It is an onomatopoeic word, I believe. So, when would you hear the sound that is very similar to “smooch.” Too hard? All right, here is another hint. Think about your lips when you kiss your boy friend or girl friend very loudly with a lot of love. Now, you get it?

It simply means “a loud kiss” or “to kiss loudly.”

Let me tell you again to make sure there is no misunderstanding. I did not smooch Jake. 🙂 One suggestion for you! Why don’t you smooch your loved one today? When you do, pay attention to the sound. That may help you to remember the word.

Have fun, guys, smooching!

11 May

neighbor vs neighborhood

Who taught: Jake


Neighborhood (source: http://www.websiteneighbors.com/)

Yesterday evening, there was a farewell party for Carol because it was her last day at her current work. She will be starting her new chapter in her life as a Rails developer of a new startup. (For those of you who are not familiar with Rails, simply speaking, it is a programming language that is used to create a new web site or application such as Twitter.)


You know what is the most fun part of being a software developer or engineer? You get to see a cool or ugly stuff right away in front of your eyes. Anything you develop does not tell a lie. If there is any problem in your code, it complains. If everything is fine, even though this does not guarantee it is perfect, it at least shows a happy face. There is no poker face in your code. Not everything in life is in this way.

Anyway, Carol! Good luck and congratulations again!

As I was talking to Jake in the party, we talked about my new house. And, Kara was with us while we were talking about the house. She actually lives in the same neighborhood where my new house is.

Did you notice that I used ‘neighborhood’ here? When I write, I can find a correct word but, yesterday, I said, “Kara! Finally, we live in the same neighbor.”

As Jake heard this, he said, “Terry. You should say ‘neighborhood’ instead of neighbor. Neighbor means a person or people who live right next to your house. It could be on your righthand side or lefthand side. Or, front or back. They are your neighbors.”

So, that means I cannot have a lot of neighbors unless they have a huge family with a huge house. 🙂 This is another case where I can write correctly but I make mistakes all the time when I speak. I just forget to add “hood” at the end.

Why? I think it is because of culture. In Korea, when I say a Korean word, “이웃(Yi-Ut),” it could cover many people who live in the same neighborhood. Korean people have a tendency to maintain very tight relationships with their neighbors. There is a Korean saying in this context, “이웃사촌(Yi-Ut-Sa-Chon).” Literal translation into English is “neighbor cousin,” meaning neighbors are like cousins or even closer than your cousins.

So, here is my conclusion that I would like to think of when it comes to the comparison of neighbor and neighborhood. I will think of a person or people when I think of the word, neighbor, whereas I will think of area or land when I need to think of neighborhood.

Better way to remember these two words correctly is asking these questions to myself all the time to train my brain.

Where is your neighborhood? vs. Who are your neighbors? Can you feel it?

26 Jul

black sheep

Who taught : Andrew, Jean and Kara

Today, let’s discuss about some of the expressions used for describing some irresponsible or bad guys.

<Situation 1>

Black sheep and White sheep

You are a member of blue blood family and have one sister and one brother. Your sister and brother have been always good and study hard. She is a professor and he is a doctor. Now, you have been always slacking and did not work hard and now are a pizza delivery guy (No offense to delivery guys!).

Now, what are you? Yup! You are the black sheep in your family.Why? You know! Generally speaking, sheep are white and if you have a black one, then it stands out from the flock. But I guess color is an important factor here. If all of the other sheep are black and there is a white one. Then, the  white sheep would mean the best one in the flock, not a bad one?? Just my two cents!

So, again, you do not want to be a black sheep at all unless if you do not mind that life at all.

<Situation 2>

Let me think! Hmm…. what would be a good example for you? OK.. so.. You are single and have one friend who has such a lovely beautiful girlfriend. And, one day, you are hanging out with them and other friends. As you drink more and more, you got drunk and started to flirt with your friend’s girlfriend, without realizing all of your friends are watching you.

So, now, what are you? In this case, you are douchebag. I am very curious why American people decided to use this word to describe a person who is jerk.

Based on Wikipedia, douche is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself. It usually refers to vaginal irrigation , the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity.

And, a douchebag is of course a bag to be used for this purpose. Then, why is this word used for describing a person? There is no good connection, I think. Does anybody know it?

21 Jul

peach fuzz

Who taught: Jake, Carol, Kara, Mark, Patrick, Angela, Stan, Alex and Andrew.

Last Friday, Andrew, Jake, Angela, Stan, Alex and I were having lunch together. Angela used to live in New York City area and, more specifically, her place was in New Jersey. Her house was on the second floor and there was a hair weave place on the first floor of the house. Do you know what the weave is? Here is the definition for you I found from the Wikipedia.

a very general term used to describe human or artificial hair used to alter one’s natural hair appearance by adding additional hair to their natural hair or by covering the natural hair all together with human or synthetic hair pieces.

I think I saw a lot of African American women try to have this weave. One thing I am curious is that how they can maintain or wash the weft hair. It would be really hard to wash regularly.

Speaking of washing hair, on our way to a restaurant this evening with my friends, Mark and Jake taught me one expression that some of the women would use when they would like to say no to some sort of asking from a guy or her friends. Supposed that Jessy, my wife, is a single and a guy asked her out and she really does not want to say straightforwardly no to him, then what she can say to him is “Oh… that is sweet but I am sorry. Tonight, I need to wash my hair.”

Mark and Jake told me it is an expression that WOMEN (maybe men with long hair) can use and it is politer than just saying no. Then, I thought that it is harsher than just saying no. What do you think?

peach fuzz

In relation to hair story, there is another expression I learned in the restaurant today from my friends. During dinner, we ended up talking about some women with bunch of different body hair, especially hair on face.

Do you know what you can use to describe bunch of short hairs on face? Jake said, “peach fuzz.” So, I just wrote that down on my iPhone. But, here is the thing!! So, I looked that expression up in the Urban Dictionary. And…… look what I found here. Jake!!! Can I really use ‘peach fuzz’ for short hairs on face? It sounds dirty. 🙂

14 Jul


Who taught: Andrew, Stan and Kara

Where it would be useful : hair salon

Mullet haircut

Yesterday, I went to a hair salon to get my hair cut. Price of haircut in America is pretty high compared to that of Korea. I used to pay around 8 – 10 dollars for my haircut in Korea. Here in America, it is around 25 dollars and that does not include tips. (This could go up way higher in other cities such as New York or San Francisco.) So, every time I get my hair cut, I need to pay around 30 dollars. To save money, I always get very short hair cut and let it grow for a while like 5 – 6 months. On average, I go to the hair salon around 3 times per year.

This morning, Andrew noticed that I got a haircut. “Hey, T-Bone! You got a haircut.” I answered, “Yeah! What do you think?” “Hmm… It looks like boy’s haircut. Too short!” said Andrew. I said, “Well, it is summer. And it was pretty long. Can you notice a line created by tanned part and untanned part due to the long hair in my back.” Andrew responded, “Why? Did you have a mullet hair style?”

Here, I had to ask, “What is that hair style?” Then, Stan showed me how that hair style looks like using his long hair.

Here is the definition of that hair style.

a hairstyle that is short at the front and sides, and long in the back.

Emo haircut

Andrew said, “It is also called ‘business in the front, party in the back’.” Isn’t that funny? Speaking of hair style, there is another one I learned from Kara. It is emo style. Emo itself is a style of rock music but it is different from the classic rock. Then, let’s think about the hair style all of the rock singers usually have. It is long, right? So, emo style is kind of long but a little different. Its look includes long side-swept bangs, sometimes covering one or both eyes. Well, you need to see the picture I am inserting here to have proper idea about it.

When you go to a hair salon, there are two equipment stylists use a lot. They are scissors and what? In Korea, I used to call it 바리깡(Ba-Ri-Ggang). Do you know why we call it Ba-Ri-Ggang? It is actually not from English but from French, sort of. The name of the French company which makes this equipment is “Bariquant de Marre.” The first part of the name is “Bariquant.” I do not know who first started to call it following its company name. But, interestingly, if you say Ba-Ri-Ggang in Korea, everybody understands what is means.

Well, so if you had a chance to get your hair cut in America and you do not want your stylist to use Ba-Ri-Ggang, you should say, “Please do not use hair clipper to cut the sides! I want you to use scissors instead.” These kind of expressions seems not really important to know but you could easily find out that you wish you already know these before you actually go into a hair salon to get a better haircut. Funny, isn’t it?

I am pretty sure there must be a lot more expressions related with haircut. Do you know any?