Freudian Slit

Tamara posted the following comment in response to this entry at Little Yellow Different:

“Something similar happened when I went back to Singapore and tried to ask for “more chilli” in Chinese [after not speaking any in 2 years]. The mandrin is “lah jiao”, but I came up with “lan jiao”, Hokkien for dick, thereby begging the nice hawker stall lady for more dick. Nice.”

Bursting out in laughter in a quiet law library is rather embarrassing, as is walking down the hill to the bus stop later unable to keep one side of your mouth or the other from quirking upwards as you try to keep the broad grin off your face. In the first situation you either appear inconsiderate and attention-seeking, or just the weird person with no inner monologue who everyone else avoids unless they are unfortunately assigned to the same project group. In the second situation you either look lecherous, tic-laden or capable of inspiring New Paper (a Singapore tabloid) articles on Elvis living in Kent Ridge.

Note to self: remind Alec when he comes to Singapore that if he ever wants to order steamed chicken rice rather than roast, the correct term is “bai ji” (white chicken). Getting the words mixed up and asking for “ji bai” with an ang mor accent has great potential for disaster.

So anyway, thanks for that, Tamara. I’ll think of you the next time I feel tempted to appear like a total nutcase to the public at large.


  1. Hi Michelle

    i know how you feel, i caused a bit of a kerfuffel at work the other day when i read that the reaper character from Batman year 2 would be in the new Batman movie its like “ohmigod-ohmigod-ohmigod” and then “oops sorry didn’t mean to say that aloud, were you on the phone? really? oh i’m sure they’ll phone back” but i think laughter is alot more acceptable when in a law library, it always made me want to laugh in disbelief.


  2. I’ve been waiting for Lost In Translation for nearly half a year. It’ll get here eventually, I’m sure.

  3. Oh God, the shame passes around the world.

    To be fair, my mother tells this story to everyone who asks why she had to send me to the UK for A levels. I think it was a totally legit mistake!

    And I will be sure to get James to order chicken that way!!!

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