On What Doesn’t Need To Be Said

Yesterday, John and I were at a BBQ hosted by his Ultimate Frisbee game, and the intriguing topic of foreign phrase books came up. It began when Dan*, who is Korean-American, and his partner Jill*, who is European-American, were discussing the possibility that Jill might learn to speak Korean.

*Names have been changed, because I cannot remember these people’s names. Oof!

Dan: We started with the alphabet, because of course it’s different.

Jill: Yeah, and I said to him, ‘Rather than have me learn an entirely new alphabet, why don’t you just teach me to say, “I’m good enough for your son.”‘

[Hilarity.]

Then someone (Kaoki?) mentioned that his friend has a foreign phrase book with highly unusual content, including the phrase, “You’re just using me for sex.” And he said, “You know, if you’re using a foreign phrase book to learn how to say that, isn’t it already obvious?”

[Hilarity.]

John: That would be an excellent phrase book: All of the things you don’t need to say, because it’s already obvious that they’re true.

Me: Yeah, totally. Except — what’s in that book?

John: [Blinks.]

Me: [Blinks.]

Honestly, what is in that book? Comments about the weather? Things you’ve already said a million times? It’s pretty site-specific, I think — and by “site” I mean time, place, and people involved.

While John and I were contemplating this linguistic meme, Paul mentioned that he knows of a “phrase book” which is actually just a picture book. If you need a bus, you open to the picture of a bus.

John: I want that book with hand gestures. Like, what if you need milk? [Bows his head and points his fingers to make horns.]

Paul: What is that, a cow?

Me: I would never have known what that was.

Matthew: It’s the devil! Take me to your devil!

4 Responses to “On What Doesn’t Need To Be Said”

  1. Ted says:

    Of course, a phrase book of things that don’t need to be said would be redundant. Perhaps all the pages should be blank.

  2. admin says:

    Wow, that’s so meta. Or Borges. “That’s so Borges.” There’s a phrase you don’t hear every day. Anyway, good point.

  3. Carey says:

    “I am still learning this language. I only know a few phrases.”

    “Like what?”

    “Like…’I only know a few phrases.’ And ‘I speak woodenly.'”

    “You do?”

    “Yes. I speak woodenly. My conversations are quite limited.”

    “They are?”

    “Yes. I am still learning this language.”

  4. admin says:

    I love it, Carey. It’s so Beckett! Or maybe Mamet?

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