Thursday, January 14, 2010

You say pot-ae-to I say pot-ah-to

Different parts of the world have different words for the same thing. Just look at the different ways Americans say soda throughout the country: soda, pop, soda pop and my favorite, coke. Yes coke. If you go to some southern states and ask for coke, they will ask you what kind!

One of my former coworkers coworkers who grew up in China was sharing a story with me about this as well. She moved to the States in her early adolescent years before mobile phones, computers and the internet were popular. It was when she went back to China and she explained that she also had a hard time due to the different terminology that either became prevalent after she had left the country or is used with different terms in the U.S. Basically, she wanted to install internet in her apartment and the customer service representative asked her what plan she wanted. However, the word for plan or package in Chinese is 套餐 or tao can. Now this is commonly used in restaurants since 餐 means meal. Together it means combo meal. She was confused and excited at the same time. Confused because she was wondering why an internet plan would give a free meal and excited because she would also get a free meal.

This was later all settled with a lot of explanation but its funny how even knowing the language can sometimes be difficult if they grow up in a different part of the world or region.

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