31 Aug


Who taught: Kelly, Phil, Amber and Tami



Let me ask you a question, my non-native English speaking friends! When you are tired, what you do say? I know I know… It’s a dumb question. You have said and would say “I am tired,” right?

Have you ever tried some other ones?

To be honest, I personally have not used any other expressions than “tired” because I do not know them until two days ago.

Two days ago, I invited my friends, Phil and Kelly, to my house to have dinner together. It was perfect to grill. We had a great evening together, eating steaks and talking about how long it has been since we met for the first time five years ago. It is so precious to have wonderful friends. Thank you, Phil and Kelly, for always being there! It’s been so awesome and I am sure we will have great friendship for a long time. One day, when we are all over 80, we will have a lot to talk about. Hope that day would come very slowly! 🙂

So, it was a long weekday and naturally, after dinner, we all felt tired. At that moment, Kelly said, “Oh… I am pooped.”

When I heard, it was pretty clear what she really meant but I wanted to make sure. “What did you say, Kelly? Pooped? P O O P?,” I said.

What would you think when you heard someone says, “I am pooped?” The first thing I had in my mind was that someone really threw poop at Kelly and she got covered with poop. Oh no… that’s terrible, right?

But, it turns out that’s just another expression to mean “tired.” Why? I do not know but I also heard from Tami and Amber that people also say “I am too pooped to pop” and that expression is from the old cartoon, “Tho Popples.”

I have never seen that cartoon and I feel like I should watch it to be able to fully understand and feel this expression. If you can find any video of the cartoon where any character uses this specific expression, please share it with us?

I am sure we all feel pooped by the end of today but thankfully it is Friday. TGIF! Hope you get to enjoy a beautiful weekend! See you next week, my friends!

09 Jul

three sheets to the wind

Who taught: Phil, Kelly, Kaley, Rachel and Shawn

Sometimes, life is so funny. We plan things and try to prepare for the future ahead. Yet, we do not know what is ahead. Every day is full of surprises.

Really should enjoy a new day given to me. Nothing to complain about at all! Carpe diem!

Last week, Jerome and Patricia threw a party to celebrate the acquisition of the company that I used to work. I used to work at the company for three years before I joined Carnegie Mellon University. It was so fun to work with smart people there. I got to solve a lot of interesting problems which eventually made a lot of clients happy. No wonder why another company wants to buy this great company.

It was so nice seeing all the people including current and former employees at the party. There were great foods, drinks and music.

I walked around, talking to as many people as possible and at some point I sit down with Phil, Kelly, Kaley, Rachel and Shawn. And, Phil told me something which I had no clue at all. I had to say to him, “what did you say?,” many times.

He said, “Hey Terry, Are you three sheets to the wind?”

Let me challenge you, my non-native English speaking friends! Can you guess what it means? Even after I got the words that Phil said, I still was not able to understand. Worse, I could not even guess.

Well, my friends told me that it simply means “are you drunk?” Of course, I was not. But, the question is why does it mean drunk? Well, no one knew why.

Once you use a language as your mother tongue, you use a lot of expressions without even thinking about why, right? In my opinion, it is because people learn those expressions by just hearing and trying to use later. That’s actually amazing. So, these days, I try really hard to learn English as if I am a new born child. You know what I mean? Just listen and use them.

Well, about 30 minutes later, I had to sit again. (You know, I am getting old.) I sit next to Kaley and she actually googled for its origin and showed it to me.

Not surprisingly, the expression is from sailing. There are a lot of expressions that originated from sailing and this is one of them. Here is a very good one for you.

Sheets actually refer to the ropes that are used to secure a ship’s sail. If the 3 ropes used were loose in the wind, the sail would flop around, causing the ship to wobble around, much like a drunk.

As soon as I saw this origin, this expression totally made sense to me. What a perfect one to describe “drunk!” Wouldn’t you agree, my friends?

So, next time if you have a drink with your friends, you should try to say, “are you three sheets to the wind?” instead of saying “are you drunk?” They will love you. 🙂

14 Jun

ears burning

Who taught: Amber and Tami

paddle ball

paddle ball (source: http://www.fksa.org/)

At first, I thought I should not write this story but I figured that it would be useful for my friends.

Here is the thing! In Aug 2010, I already posted a story about the same expression that I learned from Kelly. About two years later, I heard the same expression and that did not even ring a bell. This showcases how hard to really make a new expression yours. Simply speaking, you gotta use it. If not, there is literally no hope to make any expression yours.

Look at me! I heard and wrote a story. Yet, I still cannot say that this is an expression that I know.

Anyway, let me get to the story.

When people gather together, they talk about a lot of different things. Sometimes, it could be movies or TV shows or sometimes foods. You know, it could be anything. We also talk about other people that are not there together with us.

A few weeks ago, Tami gave me a paddle ball. So, this is one of the games that kids in the U.S. play. Well, I have never played before. It looks so easy to play but in fact it is pretty tricky. I have tried but not really been successful. Someone should demonstrate how to play so that I can learn.

Anyway, a few days ago, I had a meeting with Amber and Tami and they told me that they had lunch and taked about me, especially about my trying to play a paddle ball. As they said, they used an expression, “Weren’t your ears burning?”

Had I know nothing about expressions, I would have said, “No, my ears never burn.” Of course, they cannot and do not burn unless someone sets a fire on them, right?

Instead of telling you what that means, let me tell you a similar expression Korean people use. If, all of a sudden, someone’s ears are itching, he or she would say that someone else must be talking about me. That’s right, in Korea, we use the verb, “itch,” instead of “burn,” in this situation.

In my opinion, ears burning makes me feel the expression better. What do you think? Maybe I can try to use “ears are itching” to my American friends to see what they would guess.

Amber also told me that some people say, “Aren’t your ears ringing?”

One important takeaway is this! To learn a new language or more specifically to learn a new expression, you gotta use it.

Use it or Lose it!

20 Oct

cop a feel

Who taught: Kelly and Phil

cop a feel (source: http://www.2pep.com/)

October 14, 2011 was a pretty normal day for me until I got this text message from Phil. Phil asked me this question, “Do you know the phrase, cop a feel?”

I know what “cop” is and also know what “feel” is. Cop is Police who catch criminals. Then, I should be able to feel this expression, right? I thought it is pretty easy for me to figure out. So, I texted back to Phil, saying it should mean “keeping a feel.” You know when you have a good feeling about something, you want to keep it as long as possible.

Huh.. Am I joking? I was far away from the truth.

Phil told me that it means to grab a woman’s breasts or butt without her consent. I was like who would do that? But, then I remembered that one time when I was a swimming pool with a few other girls. One of the girls was not good at swimming and she touched my thing (you know what I am talking about here, right?) while she was trying to get out of the water. But, I was not sure she was intentional or not. I asked Phil whether this is a good example of copping a feel. He said the most important thing is that it should be deliberate. She might try to cop a feel but not sure. Oops! Don’t tell Jessy about this story. Nothing happened after that. 🙂

Based on my research, the best place to cop a feel is like New York City or an amusement park like Disney World where it is so crowded. But, I am sure this is a crime. So, please do not do this! Ironically, in this expression that basically describes an act of crime, there is “cop.”

Anyway, Phil said, “Kelly’s mind is in the gutter now. :)”

06 May

hammock and banana hammock

Who taught: Sangeetha, Alex, Phil, Pat, Mark and Kelly

banana hammock (source: http://www.sampa.com/)

Last Saturday, I moved all of my stuff from my old apartment into the new house. Many friends showed up to help the move. I would like to thank all. It was a lot easier with their help. Luckily, the weather was also amazing. To take advantage of it, I bought hot dogs, pizzas and some drinks to have a small spontaneous party at my house.

The move was done pretty quickly and we hang out in the backyard. Hack ya! That was something I have always wanted to do with my friends when I buy a house. Yay! Finally, it happened. And, I am sure there will be a lot more parties. It was so great to have them in my place.

At one point during the party, Phil said, “You guys should sling a hammock in the backyard here. That would be perfect.”

Do you guys know what hammock is? Here is the definition!

A bed made of canvas or of rope mesh and suspended by cords at the ends, used as garden furniture or on board a ship.

I am sure you’ve seen this when you were on a vacation at a resort. The most important thing you should keep in mind is that the shape of hammock, especially if someone lies in it. It becomes very narrow because of the weight of the lying person and its shape is very round. Can you imagine? I am sure you have a great imagination here.

As we talked about hammock, Sangeetha said, “Hey, speaking of hammock… Terry, have you heard the expression, banana hammock?”

I said, “I have but I totally forgot what it means. Does it have something to do with sexual stuff? Oh, does it mean a banana-shaped penis?”

Phil said, “Good guess but not that one.”

Actually, I was pretty close because it has something to do with penis. So, instead of telling you the definition of banana hammock, let me remind you of the shape of hammock when you lie in it. Imagine yourself being a penis, then what is hammock? It is something men wear but very tight. It’s a speedo or male thong.

What a great expression! It is so perfect. I am sure somebody, looking at the shape of a hammock with a person in it, thought of speedo or thong that men wear. Don’t you think they look exactly same?

Now, what if I go to a department store and ask a sales person like, “So, I am looking for a banana hammock? Do you carry them?” Would they understand what I mean? Would they look at me like a crazy person? Probably yes in the U.S., right?