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“Ulbs” (pronunciation note: similar to “gulp”)

February 14, 2008

A gazillion things can make me smile, a lot can make me laugh… but only a few things make my belly ache with laughter. “Ulbs” is one of them.

Was there ever a time in your life when you were confused about the way words are pronounced? I had my moments. In my neighborhood, “oz.”, the abbreviation for “ounces” was pronounced “owns.” So when I was a kid, I bought a “12-owns or an 8-owns Coke” from our neighborhood store. I didn’t know any better until I was (I think) in college. By this time though, knowing differently did not make much of a difference. First, I no longer bought an 8oz or 12oz Coke but a 1- or 1.5-liter Coke. Two, if I were back home and I tried buying a 120z Coke from the store, here’s what the conversation would sound like (with Filipino and English translations, of course):

Me: Pabakal tabi. (Pabili po.) (I need to buy something, please.)
Vendor: Ano Jing ang babakalon mo? (Anong bibilhin mo Jing?) (What would you like to buy, Jing?)

Me: Coke tabi. (Coke po.) (Coke, please.)
Vendor: Aring Coke? (Aling Coke?) (Which Coke?)

Me: 12 ounces tabi. (12 ounces po.) (The 12-ounces one, please.) (ounces pronounced the correct way)
Vendor: Arin? (Alin?) (Which one?)

Me: 12 ounces tabi. (12 ounces po.) (The 12-ounces one, please.) (ounces pronounced the correct way)

Vendor: Di ta ika maintindyan. Arin? (Hindi kita maintindihan; Alin?) (I don’t understand; which one?)

Me: 12 owns tabi. (12 owns po.) (12 owns, please.) (I revert to the old pronunciation)
Vendor: Aaa, ok. Aduyu uh. (Aaa, ok. Eto, o.) (Oh, ok. Here it is.)

The long and short of it is that I wouldn’t be able to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola if I insisted on the correct pronunciation.

Then, there was a time when I was walking along the Sunken Garden with my childhood friend Rose. I mentioned Chopin. I pronounced it as “Shopin” (Okay, laugh. HA HA HA!!!) She was horrified, but she was too well-mannered to laugh at me to my face so she just told me it was pronounced “Shopan” instead. I’m sure she laughed out loud when I left, though.

Now we come to “Ulbs”. Apparently, SHE (name withheld for obvious reasons) was in a high school math class and was asked to convert figures. Specifically, her teacher asked her to convert “xxx kilograms” into “yyy lbs.” SHE didn’t know how to pronounce “lbs” so she said:

“xxx kilos is yyy ulbs.”
Bloopery World:

This is another blooper that I’ve recently heard about. This is a true story, mind you.

On the phone, Person 1 was ordering some take out.
Person 1: Hello, pa-order man pong fries.
Order taker: French Fries po, Ma’am?
Person 1: (Mumbles)
Order taker: Ma’am, French Fries po?
Person 1: Dai! Sabi ko fries lang. Mayo nang French. (No! Fries only please, no French).

(Repost from my Yahoo 360 blog)

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