It Rhymes with Book!

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I should have known.

I should have know that if I posted an update on Twitter that said I was about to go on a motorbike journey through the Mekong Delta with my friend Phúc, that people’s reaction was not going to be, “Cool! Dave’s going on a big adventure in rural Vietnam!” I should have known that instead, people’s reaction was going to be, “Dave has a friend named what?!”

IMG_6313So for starters, let’s get something straight. His name rhymes with “book,” not “buck.” Though if you want to get geekish and uptight, the letter “c” is actually what is referred to among linguists as an unvoiced glottal stop. It’s practically silent. So quit your snickering.

Names can be awkward in foreign languages. I do not know what “Dave” means in Vietnamese – or Romanian, Esperanto, Farsi, or Xhosa, for that matter – but it might mean something that makes 13-year-old boys giggle in some obscure corner of our planet.

When I lived in Turkey many years ago, I had two British roommates, Phil and Natasha. If you do not speak Turkish, you will not find humor in this. It turns out, however, that “fil” is the Turkish word for “elephant,” and “Natasha,” at least back then, was Turkish slang for a Russian prostitute. During the latter part of the Clinton era, many Turks could not be bothered to learn how to pronounce “Lewinsky,” but if you happened to be a foreign visitor named Monica, well….

So anyway, yeah. Phúc rhymes with “book.” Sort of. It’s a name as common in Vietnamese as “Dave” is in America.

If you read this blog on a quasi-regular basis, it’s a name you might as well get used to because I’m going to be writing more in the coming year about my travels with Phúc. He’s a tour guide. I’m a tour guide. He and I are planning a super-amazing creative writing tour of Vietnam for next year. You are welcome to join us, but please stop giggling first.

By the way, HA! I don’t mean to make you self-conscious, but do you know what your first name means in Uzbek?!?!

I didn’t think so.

Published on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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