I’ve lived long enough to gain an insight into every aspect of how life works except one: how hard would it be for whoever is charged with inventing English-language equivalents of words in languages whose letters look like random collections of twigs, and in my mind’s eye it’s a little bald-headed guy on a stool with a green eye-shade and no pants on, but that’s just me--no, no, not just me with a green eye-shade and no pants on, it’s just me making the conjecture--how hard would it be, I say, for this guy to make the English equivalent sound like the word it’s representing? For example, the other day I was mentioning a Vietnamese soup to a friend of mine--well, a former friend--a soup clearly and unambiguously spelled P-H-O, and I pronounced it “foe”. Well, this former friend looked at me like I had just taken a pair of tongs and placed a steaming turd on his plate. I suppose I should be grateful that his look included the tongs; he thought that much of me, at least. He stared at me thusly for several tension-packed seconds, then said, “Oh! You must mean FUH!” And then raised an eyebrow, to convey a reappraisal of me that included the possibility that I have started hanging out with tea-party types and watching NASCAR races from my La-Z-Boy recliner. Leaving aside for the moment the dubious reasoning for naming any foodstuff “fuh”, why in the world did No Pants Guy decide to call it “Pho”? Did he know me as a child and has devoted the rest of his life to planning a way to humiliate me? Wouldn’t be the first time, if so.
Now look. I was going to devote this blog entry to a dissection of the sub-prime mortgage scandal and instead squandered it on a discussion of “fuh”. I guess there won’t be a GED equivalency credit for this one, huh?