Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chinese people, spelling bees, and nam-nah

When I was in college part of my foreign language requirement was to sit in the Language Lab and work on my skills for an hour a week. The exercises involved wearing headphones and listening to some ethnic speaker say words on a tape while you repeated them out loud.

The problem was that the Lab was filled with other kids of different language levels and well different languages all doing the same thing. To complicate matters the headphone weren't exactly Bose quality so the sound of the other hopelessly failing kids got mixed up along with what you were listening to.

Finally of all languages to be inadvertantly inundated with, it seemed like the Chinese kids were always at the Language Lab. iQue Lastima!

So basically if you were to make a dialogue out of the combinations of words that you were hearing in your own headphones + those around you, it would sorta look lke this:

Spanish Voice in Headphones: Pablo no se gustan los fiambres
Me Out Loud: Pablo no se....
Chinese People: Namnah. Namnah!
Me Out Loud: ...se gusta los fiambres
Chinese People: Nnnnyuk! Nnnnyuk!
Spanish Voice: Donde esta la vaca? Donde esta la vaca?
Me Out Loud: La vaca esta....
Chinese People: Nnnnyuk! Nnnnyuk!
Me Out Loud: en la calle?
Chinese People: Namnah. Namnah!

It was truly an awesome learning experience. In no way whatsoever. The worst part is the tapes allowed a blank 15 seconds or so after each phrase to give you time to say it out loud. This spacing was key because it gave you some quiet to think about what to say. For some reason some jackasses over the years began to tape themselves on these blank spots to make the whole thing miserable...

Spanish Voice in Headphones: El gato esta corriendo con manos qeubrando
Me Out Loud: El gato esta...
Blank Spot on Tape: NYUK!
Me Out Loud: Um...el gato esta...
Blank Spot on Tape: Namnah!
Me Out Loud: Uhhhhh
Spanish Voice in Headphones: Tu te gustan los...
Me Out Loud: Fuck! Fucking aye
Spanish Voice in Headphones: NYUK!
Me Out Loud: Fuck!
Spanish Voice in Headphones: El gato esta corriendo con manos qeubrando

....and so on and so forth. At some point I started getting so pissed that I too purposely taped my voice over the tapes too to fuck up the kids who would use it later.

All of this of course is a long-winded setup for this part of the story: Since that time in 1997 the phrase "Namnah!" had been a running joke amongst my friends. A funny little anecdote if you will. UNTIL I learned that kid who won the Spelling Bee today (Indian of course) had to spell the word "numnah" (Which is a saddle blanket, according to the interweb).

This is remarkably similar to my Language Lab Word of Fame, Namnah! Who would've thunk?
It's the small things that count in life. Big ups Sameer Mishra...you're an Apollo Legend.

2 comments:

ZenDenizen said...

That made me laugh out loud and almost nothing ever does.

Shakes said...

the best part of course is that the kid that his last word numnah was "numb nuts"