Friday, May 28, 2010

Lost In Translation

So, I work with this Asian Girl.

She’s very nice. Always pleasant. She speaks with a Chinese accent and I always knew that she wasn’t born in the U.S.

Her name is Pam Yu. At least that’s what she always called herself. I had always thought that, since she was born in China, having the first name “Pam” was passing strange, so I finally asked her about it.

“Oh no”, she told me. “Pam isn’t my real name. I just started calling myself that because I didn’t want to use my actual, Chinese, name.”

I understood that. I’ve known many people, born in other countries, who have names difficult to pronounce for us Westerners. I’ve worked with a Rajasuri who called herself “Raj”. I’ve worked with a JINGHUA who called herself “June”. You get the point.

I explained this to her, and she quickly shook her head, looking uncomfortable.

When I asked her what was wrong, she explained to me that I didn’t quite understand why she had to change her first name when she moved to America.

I asked her to explain it to me, but she was very hesitant. Quite honestly, she looked embarrassed.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what her issue could be. She looked around to see if anyone else was within view, before handing me her driver’s license.

“When I moved here, I used my real name for about 6 months before I finally had to ask someone why people were constantly laughing at me whenever I introduced myself.”

Perplexed, I looked down at her license, and it took me a minute to phonetically read her name before I got it:

The poor girl standing before me was from that moment, and forever more, never to be thought of by me as “Pam Yu”.

Try as I might, I can only now think of her by her birth name:

Phuk Yu.

That’s right.

“Fuck You”.

I think I’d call myself Pam, too.

Speechless, I just handed her back her license, told her that I understood, and went on my way.

I should have asked how her sister “Blow Me” is doing……


sybil law said...

Poor girl!

I went to school with a Vietnamese girl who's name was pronounced "tongue". She went by Two. Tongue is not a good name for a junior high girl.

sybil law said...

I hate screwing up grammatically!

Susan Higgins said...

Oh... what a name!

I wonder what it means in her native language?

Slyde said...

sybil: do you happen to still have Tongue's number?

Backdoor: i never got enough courage to ask...

Suzi Q said...

If I worked with her I think I would find it incredibly hard, now knowing the truth, to not just yell out "Hey Phuk Yu!" every time I saw her.

SK Waller said...

I liked the name "Phat Phuc" so much, I named my Beta fish that.

It's a Vietnamese dish, by the way.


Slyde said...

suzi: oh believe me, i was tempted.

SK: i love it!

Verdant Earl said...

You made that up.

Phuk is a Thai name. ;)

The Invisible Seductress said...

Poor thing....But you handled it very diplomatically!!!


Nat said...

No phuking way! Poor 'Pam'...

Mrs. Hall said...

My first ob doctor was called Dr. Fok.

short u, like duck.

so yeah, Dr. Fuck.


Brittany said...

Poor thing!!! ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Marlene said...

Thanks for the giggles. :)

Chris H said...

I don't blame Pam at all... not one iota for changing her name.

terri said...

I work with a guy (actually two of them. They're brothers.) whose last name is Dick. Not quite as traumatic as Phuk Yu, but still funny.

Dr Zibbs said...

Haha. You sure your Uncle's friend didn't tell you this story?

Don't lie.

Dr Zibbs said...

Haha. You sure your Uncle's friend didn't tell you this story?

Don't lie.

Jill said...

You know, I think growing up with a difficult name can give a person a certain strength of character to a certain extent. But it must be really odd to grow up all your life with a socially acceptable name and then suddenly find yourself in a culture where your name is a joke.

My mom told me about someone who had a last name that included the word "shit". And she went to legally get her name changed and her whole office was very understanding. But when she came back, the woman had changed her FIRST name, which had been some run of the mill first name, and kept the last name! Everyone was baffled.

Heff said...

Hey ! Phuk yu tu !

Anonymous said...

If my name was Phuk Yu - I wouldn't change it.

But then again, I'm a guy.

And my real name is Bangme Indeeass.


Bruce Johnson said...

I am not a linguistics expert by any means, but I believe that the surname Phuk isn't chinese, but more liley, cambodian or thailand based.

....and on another note, this was one of the funniest skits in Aston Powers "Goldmember"......having sex with the Asian Twins....

Cocaine Princess said...

My first thought was that of Lotus, that the name Phuk originates from Cambodian or Thailand.

I'm giggling at what you said to
Sybil: sybil: "do you happen to still have Tongue's number?

P.S. Your label is hilarious to this post.

Nej said...

I'm totally NOT kidding when I say we have someone it that same name that works here...but they aren't using a more Americanized name...nope, they've stuck with the original. :-) :-)