Saturday, 15 January 2005

Dear Bralabella

I think I owe you an explanation and I have decided to pen this open letter by way of making you understand me better. And to other readers, I have devoted this letter to one of five of my regular readers mainly because I have never once spelt her name right. And for this I owe her an apology and an explanation.

Blarabella, please do not feel offended for in KakTehSpeak, you are not alone – in fact you are among some great names that my tongue always manage to do a sommersault – these are Harrifon Sord, East Clintwood, the writer Rahman Shurdi and lately my dear friend Dato Chimmy Joo. I once introduced a friend saying he works for Shong Kong Hai Hai Bank.

Brablalela, please read on. I have tried to understand why I am the way I am inspite of being a broadcaster and the occassional MC. During these occassions I never did slip – may be I was on auto mode.

I found an enlightening article in Readers’ Digest which partly explains the occasional embarrassing slip. It was Reverend William Archibald Spooner who gave numerous “tinglish Errors and English terrors” during his time and thus the term “Spoonerism”.

He was the one who told off a student that he had “tasted two worms for hissing his mystery lecture”.

Reading about this genial old gentlemen, I am comforted by the fact that people like him are said to have such nimble brains that their tongues just have problems catching up with. The Greeks, explained the article, have a term for this, and it is called METHATHESIS - the act of changing words around and English of course offer fertile grounds for the likes of Spooner as it has three times more words than any other language.

I discovered this annoying impediment during my school days, and it usually happens when I am agitated or excited or tired. I remember trying to explain to my lecturer Rohana Ghani why I couldn’t hand in my assignment –and while trying to do so, managed to call her Rohani Ghana. Once, late for an assignment, I jumped into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to Jubang Saya.

Friends have hilarious times when I am around. Everynight, in our dorm, we would do the rounds of saying goodnight.

Fati: Goodnight, Mia.
Mia: Goodnight Riza.
Riza: Goodnight Tini.
Tini, Goodnight Kak Teh .
Kak Teh: Goodni tinight…..

A friend trying to be helpful recently asked me to read a book called “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” and he said, sympethetically, that that book could perhaps help me understand what is increasingly becoming embarrassing. So, off I went to a bookshop in Oxford Street, all the while memorising the title – a long one which I knew would give my tongue some trips. Lining up behind the info queue I repeated “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat “ several times and when I reached the salesgirl to ask for the book I said: Excuse me, do you have a book called “ A Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Coat Hanger?” She gave me an odd look but almost immediately knew that I need help. This time, it wasn’t my tongue – it was my brain. It was up to mischief and doing word associations – which I don’t really need at this time, okay? Thank you!

Now, this Blabralela – is another of my problems and if after this posting you stop visiting my blog – I do understand. Perhaps I am dyslexic? This , I am told is a certain kind of dyslexia.

My nearest and dearest ones have come to understand me when I tell them that “the stow has snopped” or “please low the mown”. My long suffering husband also knows that when I give directions to turn right, it means left. Once we were walking to a friend’s place and when we came to a junction, he said “Oh, turn left here.” There, we parted company. This also somewhat explains why I never passed my driving test.

Brablarela, that is not all. My most embarrasing moment was when I had to call my childminder’s husband to ask if he would kindly drive to get the children from school. The conversation went like this:

KT: Abang, saya lambat baliklah. Boleh abang ambik budak-budak di sekolah.
Abang: Oh, Abang tak ada kereta.
(At this time, my eyes were scanning a guestlist posted on a notice board and among the guests was a French lady called Gigi)
KT: Oh, Abang tak ada (eyes to the list) gigi?

It is not as if I don’t realise my slip – At this point my face felt very hot ‘cos Abang really doesn’t have teeth!!

I do this too when I am typing and speaking on the phone at the same time. The phone conversation will consist of partly the original conversation and whatever I was typing on the screen.

You know, I suddenly thought of other contributory factors. As children, we used to have secret codes so that adults wouldn't understand us. My siblings and I still do this so that our children don’t understand our conversation. It goes like this: Kak Mak Teh Meh nak mak pi mi mama nama? (Kak Teh nak pi mana?) or perhaps when I was born, the bidan slapped my head (instead of my other cheeks) and dislodged a few cells…. Oh, whatever!

So, Blarabela, this is your Tak Keh signing off. Apart from the above, I am quite harmless!

Have a dood gay!

Kak Teh


Idlan said...

I will so get into trouble if the right eyes find this, but one spoonerism someone made in school was to call our then-HEM Haliban Shaa'mah - and it stuck!

(I'll leave it you to figure out what the real name was)

Kak Teh said...

He he, Idlan, with the right cells in the wrong place , I can easily figure that out! Thanks for sharing and I hope others will share too!

Blabarella said...

SPOONERISM!! About the best thing I learnt during English class in my law matriculation!! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for dedicating such an important piece of knowledge to ME *beams to the point of exploding* - and PLEASE pop over to my place and read this for a response!! :)

Kak Teh said...

so, I 've got company! Thank God!! Your father's verbal trips reminded me of my own malapropism, the most embarassing one being,I take astroids for my asthma and hayfever. I think the most famous Mr Malaprop is the last president of Philipines, the name escapes me now - but he has the most outrageous ones - too blue to be mentioned here.

Bustaman said...

A broadcaster friend purposely did that to fellow broadcasters. Poetic justice was served when he read the news and innocently announced "Duli Yang Maja Mulia Sri Pakuda Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong".
Fortunately, he got to keep his pension.

Honeytar said...

Kak Teh, I got you as "Kak Teh's Chocolates !" ;-)

Kak Teh said...

Pok Ku, I made our former PM a Tun long, long before he was conferred it. Luckily I was on shorwave, overseas broadcast.

Toneyhar, ha,ha! you associated choc-a-blog with chocolates! Join the club! Coincidentally, I am a chocoholic too!

Iskandar Syah Ismail aka DR Bubbles said...


in your case it's snooperism. i mengekek gelak baca your posting ni.

kant tyou...

Ruby M. said...

anoger breat siece as upual! hoooo silarious one!

Berisman said...

I once called my good friend Awang Goneng as my fiend!
Luckily,he forgave my typos...there are a lot of them in my blog;-)

Pak Adib

Kak Teh said...

Is and maknenek - alas, that is me!

Pak adib - in KakTehSpeak, it would be Gawang Oneng! And typos - hah - another speciality of mine - can do it with one eye closed! Thanks for the contribution.

Kak Teh said...

Oh yes, we bought an MP3 'cos its big enough to ferry the whole family around, and I got myself an MPV to record my interviews.

zaireen said...

LOL.. I laugh-non-stop at your article..
I made the similar mistake when boarding a taxi and instruct the driver to send me to Jalan Lee Kuan Yew..
And the driver snapped at me saying that, Dr. Mahathir (PM at that time) would not allow that to happen..heheh

Actually, it slipped my mind - I was supposed to say, Jln Yap Kwan Seng...

Kak Teh said...

zaireen, lol! that is word association again! (hope it wasn't wishful thinking!) Anyway, what my husband blurted in front of our guests having dinner is something we and our guests will never forget in a hurry. We were talking abt the types of plates - meaning Royal Dalton, Royal Albet etc...and he then simply announced - Oh, we just use Durex! What he wanted to say was Duralex!!! And then when he realised his mistake, (but not making the situation any better)he said, Oh, no wonder we have lots of children...we have not been using the proper thing!

Anonymous said...

herk..i dont recall being in the dame sorm with you :)

Nadia said...

ROTFL durex tu brand bende alah tu ke kak teh? aahhh thank you for making me laugh!LOL

Anonymous said...

hahahahaa, kak teh...i have the problem too...left and right...right and left...thought need to have a brain scanning!

Blabarella said...

Oh wow, this is still here. :) Am combing through one of my dead blogs where I linked back to what you wrote, and was just wondering if the link still worked. And it does!! :D

I've got a new blog up now KT - it's at

But have been struggling tremendously to write. :(