Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learnin' American with Miso & Lilo

We have a few international students in our Toy Design class, all from Korea. One of them, Jee, sits next to me. So every once in awhile, she will ask Lilo (who is American-raised, from a Taiwanese-American family like I am) or me to explain something she doesn't understand.

One day, during our Soft Toy (sewing) class, Lilo was studying out loud for our History of Industrial Design quiz, partly to help us study too:
Lilo: How do I remember that William Morris did the Pimpernel wallpaper? Oh. I know. William Morris was a pimp! Pimpernel Wallpaper!
Me: Hah! That's good. He was a pimp!
Jee: What is "pimp?"
Me: Umm.... it's a hooker's boss.
Jee: A hooker's boss?
Me: Prostitute? A prostitute's boss. But people use "pimp" as slang, like "Dude, you're a pimp!"
Lilo: Yeah, "You're a pimp" is like "You're awesome!"
Jee: So "pimp" is "awesome"?
Me: Yeah, in slang. But in real life, pimps are bad people.
Jee: They're bad? But why?
Lilo: Yeah, he like, owns the hookers, and the hookers do all the work.
Me: And usually they're abusive. Not like I really know about these things, haha.
Lilo: Yeah, like they take all the money from the hookers and then slap them around, hahaha.
Me: But they make lots of money and they flaunt it. Like, show it off? So that's why it's used in slang like that. Like, if you have a cool place, someone would say, "Dude. Your place is pimpin'."
Lilo: Yeah.
Me: But some people think it's politically incorrect. Like, it's really a rude thing to say.
Lilo: No, it IS politically incorrect. But we just say it to be funny.
Me: Yeah, it's more like "gangsta" slang? Like mostly rappers will say it normally? But we wouldn't really say that, unless we're just being ridiculous.
Lilo: Yeah, it's like how we call each other "bitch."
Jee: Ah. Okay.
Other times, Jee will ask us to help her correct her pronunciation. She works very hard at it, because she knows presentation skills are important job skills. Also she doesn't want to sound like she's cussing when she doesn't mean to.
Jee: Miso.
Me: Yes?
Jee: "Sheeyt."
Me: Hmm. close. "Sheet."
Jee: Shit.
Me: Nooo. Sheeeet. Wider in the mouth. Sheeet.
Jee: Sheeeit.
Me: Better. It's "eeeee", versus "ih."
Jee: I can't tell the difference! Do it again.
Me: "eee," "ih". Sheet, shit.
Jee: Hmm. Do you like to eeat a peach on bitch with a sheeteh?
Soo: "Peach" sounded good...
Me: Yeah, just say it like you did with "peach."
Jee: Eit a peach on bitch on a shit.
Me: Hmm. "Eeeee!"
Jee: "Eeeeeeee!"
Lilo: Sheeet. sheet.
Jee: Shieet.
Me: Closer?
Lilo: (shakes head)
Jee: Eat a peach, on beach, on a sheeiet.
Jee: Sheiieet.
Lilo: Now not as slow.
Jee: Shiet.
Me: Hmm.
Jee: Shit.
Me: No.
Lilo: You know, I don't really use "sheet" that often.
Me: And I think people can figure out what you mean in context anyway.
Jee: I know, but I don't want to say the wrong word in a presentation!! Sheeit. Sheeit. Shit.
Me: You could say, "Eat shit on a beach, bitch!" to someone you don't like. Or "Eat a peach on a beach, bitch!"
Jee: No!
Me: Okay, say "Eat a peach at a beach on a sheet."
Jee: Peach. Pitch. Bitch. Bitch. Sheeit. Sheeit. "Eeeat a peach on a beitch on a sheiit."
Me: Hmm. Just keep practicing!
Jee: Sigh.
Later, toward the end of the day, we were in our Computer Rendering class, learning how to color and shade plastic-looking dolls:
Jee: Your doll is peem peem!
Lilo: What?
Jee: Peem... peem?
Lilo: Oh. PIMP-in'. Is that what you're sayin'?
Jee: Peempeen?
Lilo: Pimpin.
Jee: Peempeen? Peempin?
Lilo: Pimpin.
Jee: Yours is peempin.
Aww. I will miss my classmates this summer.

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Anonymous bk said...

Hilarious. I don't even know what she was trying to pronounce in that second passage. Probably had something to do with being a pimp.

10:13 AM  
Blogger the.nicole.harvey said...

we have had similar conversations with the volunteers who intern at the museum.
but I think yours wins for contextual genius.

11:37 PM  

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