“Ivon!  I have pot!”yelled Akemi from the front porch, thus ensuring that now, all of our neighbors assume we are drug dealers.  Never mind that the “pot” in question was the cooking pot Ivon had left behind last weekend and was about to forget yet again.

“Should I have said “a pot”?”asked Akemi.

No, actually, “Ivon!  I have your pot!” or “Ivon!  Don’t forget your pot!” would have been correct – and just as likely to lead anyone within earshot to assume Akemi was reminding Ivon about his marijuana.

So, correct, yes, but misleading.  English is funny that way.  To me anyway.  To Akemi, who is constantly confused by its complex, ever-shifting rules – not so much.  Not only does she have to learn HOW to say something, but she also has to learn WHEN to say it.

And, sometimes, she says something that makes sense dramatically AND contextually yet is still…unique.  Like this little gem when she realized she had headed out unprepared for the sunny day:

“I forgot my sunglasses.  It’s okay.  I have charming eyes.”

Charming eyes?

I think it’s a cultural thing.  Like when she proudly told me that her university had received a very prestigious award.  And what, you may ask, did the school earn an award for?  Its celebrated faculty?  Its world class economics program?  Its accomplishments in research and development?  Even better.  According to Akemi, her university won the award for Best Cafeteria.  And, when I stared blankly back at her, she informed me, in all seriousness: “It’s a very good cafeteria.”

No doubt.

So, yes, it could be a cultural thing.  Or sheer kookiness.


dasndanger writes: “You really don’t read my posts, do you? […] right after I went on my little best theme rant, I added this:  (And yes, I know you asked for our favorites, and not ‘The Best’, but I’m feeling a bit frisky this morn and wanted to pick a fight. :D )So, had you fully read my comment it just goes to reason that you would either 1. pick apart one of my selections, or 2. get all defensive and tell me why The Sopranos theme ranked #1 on your list.  But you didn’t! Instead, you just said what I had already acknowledged!!”

Answer: I actually do read all the comments before approving.  Even yours! 🙂  You said you wanted to pick a fight – which would suggest you wanted me to respond – but the only possible response I could offer is the one I gave you.  I couldn’t pick apart your selections because, as you pointed out, the list is based on personal preferences. And, for the record, the addition to your post should have read: “And yes, I know you listed your favourites and not “The Best” as opposed to what you wrote: “And yes, I know you asked for our favourites and not “The Best”” which is confusing and really applies to your list and not mine even though, technically, I never asked for your favorites.  Thus, I felt the need to clarify.

26 thoughts on “December 9, 2013: A cultural thing?

  1. Wow, now I’M confused about who was asking what! 🙂

    Anyway, of course Akemi DOES have charming eyes so her comment was indeed spot on. She’s 100% charming though, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.

    A step-mom update: After a couple of months of her doing quite well health-wise, she’s taken a bit of a down turn with an irregular heart rate. Not too serious – she’s had this before and it comes and goes. But, it’s a reminder that overall she’s not in that good health. Hopefully, this will be a short bump in the road. She’s still in hospital, still waiting. However, I did have a meeting with the general manager of the care facility that she is waiting to get back into (well, the nursing care part of it) and it looks like she’s going to have about another month or two (probably). Sigh. We’ve made it this far, I guess.

  2. Interesting blog today. I happened to be boarding a flight to Bangkok via Narita last week. The gate agent kindly said to what I thought was “Your Chicken is in the Package.” After a couple of repeats and a confused mind I part I surmised she was talking aboot my bags or luggage. Perhaps it was some sort of James Bond type ID. Having walked some of the shopping malls in Bangkok, I can say I am thoroughly tired of Christmas Carols. Nice to be back in 10F weather.

  3. The cultural thing I get stuck on with my Italian friends is the use of double negatives; they’ll even use it in their software coding logic. I once suggested to one of my Italian colleagues that the use of negative constants combined with a negative bit-mask to set a variable to a positive value (rather than just setting it positive directly), was a little complicated.

    The answer I got back (in English) was “No, it is not uncomplicated.” So did that mean it WAS complicated, or that it was uncomplicated? I know what he meant, so I have no real beef about it; I just find it humorous at times.

  4. But did you watch the video?!!

    It’s very important that you did…do…did do. Why? Because every time – and I mean EVERY time – I say, “I am…disappointed”, that’s the exact voice I say it in…with face whiskers, and everything.

    I actually do read all the comments before approving. Even yours! 🙂 You said you wanted to pick a fight – which would suggest you wanted me to respond – but the only possible response I could offer is the one I gave you. I couldn’t pick apart your selections because, as you pointed out, the list is based on personal preferences. And, for the record, the addition to your post should have read: “And yes, I know you listed your favourites and not “The Best” as opposed to what you wrote: “And yes, I know you asked for our favourites and not “The Best”” which is confusing and really applies to your list and not mine even though, technically, I never asked for your favorites. Thus, I felt the need to clarify.

    *Reads…re-reads…and reads again*

    *Shrugs* I guess it’s a cultural thing. 😉



  5. Actually, I think the correct thing for Akemi to shout from the front porch was, “Ivon, I have your crock pot!” But knowing Akemi, it would have come out as, “Ivon, I have your…” Well nevermind. It sounds nasty so I can’t even write it. This is a “G” rated blog, with an occassional porn reference thrown in. Joe, don’t pick fights with Das. You’ll lose. And as Gforce says, Akemi is 100% charming.

  6. I see that PBMom has met her goal and is now surpassing it. That’s pretty cool.

  7. English articles are difficult if your native language doesn’t have them. Not so much a cultural thing as it is a brain wiring thing. Not helped by colloquialisms for drug names. I did chuckle, though.

  8. I am from the US and my friend that I go to cons with it from Australia. The first time we were room mates (Stargate Vancouver) we were getting ready to go to sleep and she says”, “please to knock me up in the morning.” My answer, “I did mention that I have a husband!”


  9. Congrats, PBMOM!

    For those who missed it:


    @ gforce – Thoughts are with you and your family. Hope your step-mom gets all better soon!

    @ Duptiang – Your Chicken is in the Package? 😆 DEFINITELY a James Bond thing! 😀 Or…a cultural thing. 😉

    @ Ponytail – A G-rated blog? Uh-oh… 😛

    @ Akemi – I agree, you do have charming eyes – no need to hide behind sunglasses! Now Joey, on the other hand…



  10. Congratulations, PBMom!

    Akemi is always charming! And a little kooky – which just enhances her charm! Personally, I think articles are difficult to master. When you are learning a language they seem so… small.

    You got me thinking about TV theme songs. I think that for many of us, the theme music becomes so closely linked in our brains that just hearing the music evokes all of the feelings we have about the show. And that is just what they are supposed to do. But those of us that haven’t watched The Sopranos can’t really appreciate how brilliantly the music works with the show and so, don’t really understand why it’s number one on your list. The Dr. Who theme is like that for me. The music itself is fun and very cool but is it great music? Maybe not.. But the memories tied to that show bubble up every time I hear it. The Dr. Who theme makes me positively giddy.

    Proust and madeleines.



    Thanks for the cookie, das. The film clip not disappoint me. 😉

  11. Hey, articles and possessives are hard! Not as difficult as counting things in Japanese though, I never, ever got that right, not even bottles of beer. So many counter words….. how many? Wakarimasen.

  12. @fargateone, I saw that Momoa news, very cool. I may even watch the thing now…no, I can’t do Affleck, he’s a terrific director but Reindeer Games scarred me for life.

    I get shy speaking Spanish growing up overseas because people would catch my accent and point out my mistakes, like when I’d say I had what translated as a “headache ache” instead of just a “headache;” we grew up speaking Spanglish so now I make mistakes in both English and Spanish.

    Just to add to the TV theme music convo, I love this piece, it’s the Superhoodie theme for Season 3 of Misfits:

  13. @ Sparrowhawk – It’s a great clip – delivering both a very quotable line AND a tortured hero! Just plop a white wig on the fella and we could have Drizzt…I mean, seeing as how Hornblower has a tan and all. 🙂 Heck, keep the dark hair and slap some powder on his mug and we could even have Loki! Give ‘im both the white wig and face powder and bam! Elric, or Nuada, Todd, or Pendergast! Just change the clothes, the hair, and the skin tone and we could stick any of our favorite fellas in that pit! It’s like having a live action Colorform doll! 😀

    Not that I enjoy seeing men suffer or anything… *shifty eyes*


  14. @ Sparrowhawk (again!) – Friends of ours just had a baby last Friday and named her Tegan after the Doctor’s companion of the same name. 🙂

    Also, shouldn’t the Doctor always be spelled out and not abbreviated? I might be nerding out here, but I always thought it was a no-no to use the abbreviated form. Anyone know the answer?

    (Also, you ALWAYS say ‘The Doctor’ with a British accent – no matter what. 🙂 )


  15. One more, gotta add the fun sexy time that is the Bad Guy theme song; I have no idea what he’s saying but the song is terrific and showcases the gorgeous cast. The show is full of action and revenge but the theme is all about love:

  16. gforce: I agree with you. Akemi is 100% charming.
    I hope your Stepmom starts doing better.

    Ponytail: You made me 😆 about the crockpot. Thanks for that!

    Yay PBmom!

    Akemi’s English is much better than my Japanese. I can count to ten and use some karate terms. Probably butchering the language some as I go. Sorry.

    What’s funny is that there was a kid in our karate class whose mom was Japanese. The kid was fluent in English and Japanese. When the sensei would bark out a command in Japanese, I would look to the kid and see what he’d do (if I didn’t understand the command). Anyway, he looked as confused as I was. I asked him and he said the pronunciations were so bad, he didn’t recognize the commands either.

  17. I volunteer with an English conversation group (for ESL immigrants to Canada who want to practice their English speaking skills with native speakers) at the downtown Vancouver YMCA. (Every Thursday, 5:30-7, if Akemi’s interested.) And I love hearing how non-native English speakers put together words and phrases in totally original ways to get their point across. The result sounds so much more colorful and interesting than the tired and cliché sentences the rest of us use without giving it much thought. Aside from the aesthetic value of the oral poetry their novel phrasings often create, I enjoy being reminded that my own communications could be spiced up if I’m willing to break out of the box, linguistically speaking.

  18. @ Tam Dixon – I’m pretty sure Akemi’s English is also much better than Joe’s Japanese.

    I’m pretty sure Joey’s done his part at butchering the Japanese language to a hilarious degree. I really wish Akemi would start a ‘Shite my Canadian boyfriend says’ blog…only it would have to be in Japanese, and so I couldn’t read it even if she did!


  19. Das:

    Not that I enjoy seeing men suffer or anything… *shifty eyes*

    You should have been at my physical therapy session today, if I was a masochist, the torture would have been exquisite! They hooked my swollen knee up to a muscle stimulation machine and shocked it with electrical pulses until I told them my social security number (and then they shocked me some more for good measure). Maybe I should YouTube it for you next time?

    In other knee news, the swelling is not abating, so the doctor thinks I’ll be on the crutches through New Year’s :-(. There was a little progress (I can now bend my knee 80-degrees instead of 70), but the swelling makes it impossible to put weight on it (hence the crutches). I feel like that M-TV experiment where everyone in a locked up house had to survive on only what they could order through a web-browser. Peapod here I come.

  20. Sorry I had to catch up my friends. YES!! *WE* achieved the goal. It would not have happened without your generosity (for those that were able to; I understand times are difficult for everyone). And special shout out to @Denise for making a contribution even after the goal was met. If anyone wants to/is able to, it is still ongoing until I think the end of the year. I was just in there today having a conference with his new (temporary) case supervisor. She wanted to go over things as much as she could in an hour to get an idea of why some things were the way they were (like the IPad communication issue, etc.), picking a few priority items to focus on, etc.

    For those who are FB friends with me, you already know what I’ve been busy with the past couple of days (besides pet sitting). WE GOT A NEW BABY! I mean DOG! I don’t think you need to have a Twitter account to see these.




    His name was Skipper. We renamed him Boomer. He was on death row at a Beaumont, Texas animal pound when Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston took him in in October. He is part golden retriever, part Great Pyrenees and part whatever makes his one ear stay up. We’ve been getting to know him. Today I was introduced to some of the things he does not like (or even fears, like storm drains). And man–does HE PULL on his walk. We’re going to work on that, too. He is very, very smart though. He already is responding to the change in his name. He has figured out that when someone leaves, he can look at them getting in the car from my front office window. I was told he had occasional accidents, but he has only had two. He figured out that if he had to go and we didn’t see him at the back door, he could come to one of us and we would figure it out. He is so loving–just collapses into your arms if you let him. I took him into my vet to get him microchipped on Monday because they said he was a runner/bolter. He was biting/nipping but I cured him of that Sunday night. He tries to jump against the fence to greet the dogs who live next door to us, but we’re stopping that immediately. He already knows how to retrieve a ball or frisbee and bring it back to me. I’m teaching him “down.” Once we have that, I’ll teach him “stay” and “come.” I don’t know the circumstances of how he ended up at the pound, only that he was found on the street. He is 71 pounds (the vet says that is a good weight for him). He is about 1.5 to 2 years of age. Jeff said when I left on Saturday night to go take care of my evening dogs, he stayed at the door I left from (the one that goes to the laundry room which then goes to the garage) for 20 minutes before he could not stand it anymore and told him to come in with him. Awwwww. Patrick smiles and laughs at him. On Sunday night I think it was, Patrick said, “Eh”, and I asked him what did he want. He grabbed my hand and instead of taking me out to the kitchen, he pushed me towards the bedroom door. He then jumped into the bed with Jeff and Boomer. Boys night.

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