Author Archives: amkimura

Wordplay In Korea


In Korea, young Koreans in their tweens and 20s tend to abbreviate long words like Iced Americano and Starbucks to “Ah ah” and “Supuck.” Those who do this tend to do so to show that they are young and keeping with the trends. Therefore, it is easy to tell who is trendy and in touch with Korean culture through the way they speak. Usually nouns are shortened.


This phenomenon reminds me of similar things in popular culture in the U.S. as well. For example, a self proclaimed fan of Five Nights At Freddy’s or Identity V would be called out if they didn’t know what the abbreviated forms of the names were: FNAF and IDV respectively. In this way, dialect is able to draw a hard line between those within and outside of groups in the know. 

No Crowmouthing yourself


“No Crowmouthing yourself” means to not say things like car crash, suicide, cardiac arrest, especially in correlation to anyone in the family. “Joking things like “I’m going to die” is definitely going to get me scolded by my grandparents even in a joking way, and they’d call that “crow mouthing.” big nono, not safe, and they’d give a whole lecture about how to be better in a well being since… they had it rough in their life,” reports my informant. Her parents and grandparents lived through many different wars, and thus they believe that dangerous things like swimming in the river, riding a roller coaster, or speaking of things related to death put your wellbeing at risk. In China, this proverb is used quite often and is a big theme in Chinese culture. Younger people tend to say it to themselves to scold themselves. 

An example of this proverb being used genuinely goes as follows:

Person 1: “Oh god, I have a flight this afternoon, I hope the plane won’t crash haha.”

Person 2: “Stop! Do not crowmouth yourself, saying plane crash is such a bad thing.”

However, later this proverb has evolved into a dark joke, akin to saying “Haha imma kill myself.” An example of it being used in this way goes as follows:

Person 1: “I’m going to die because of this assignment”

Person 2: “Haha, crow mouthing yourself, huh?”

As my informant says, “it’s a bit morbid but silly funny.” She believes because society has become more safe, “the past concerns of war, hunger, limits and so on don’t exist in this modern time in China,” and thus a proverb that may have held great weight in the past doesn’t scare the youth today.


I find it interesting how proverbs can change from being held with great meaning to being used in a sarcastic joke. Perhaps a combination of a change in environment, like my informant said, and the fact that proverbs are typically widespread and are a collective knowledge have a hand in this evolution of the ways certain proverbs are used now.

Laughter is the Best Medicine


My informant had first heard this proverb in middle school, when a kid was sad and the teacher made a silly face. The environment got more lighthearted and the teacher used it as an example of how the proverb, “laughter is the best medicine,” works in action. They have noticed that it still works to this day, as they have found that usually when you try to make people laugh in an appropriate situation, the mood gets better. They notice laughter works too when they are feeling down.

Typically they use this proverb in friend settings when things seem sad. While the lesson in the proverb holds true, saying the proverb can also work, if said in a joking manner. 

My informant still believes in the proverb because they have seen it happen in real time and because it has happened to them. Their personal experience enforced their belief in the proverb.


In comparison to some other proverbs said to children, like “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” and “actions speak louder than words”, “laughter is the best medicine” is surprisingly positive. This may be due to a more peaceful upbringing than in times of war. My informant told me that this proverb may have originated from the bible verse Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” The more modern version may have been simplified to be understood easier by children.

I Hardly Know Her!


 “(Blank subject)? I hardly know her!”


My informant first heard this joke sometime in High School from friends, and typically uses it within friend groups.

According to my informant, a common way of using this joke would be “to playfully poke at certain things like “healthy relationships? Hardly heard of her” or like “homework” or something.” They tend to make “a playful jab at something that mildly annoys [them] or something [they] wanna make fun of.” However, it’s not always used in a negative light.

When asked if it was a joke done to lighten the mood, even if not a negative context, they replied that said that they do tend to drop it into regular conversations and they said, “I think I do it just because I want to make my friends laugh a little.” An example provided goes as the following: “Say like my friend is talking about like having a crappy relationship and their partner is being a total piece of shit and I’m like “haha, having proper boundaries with your partner? Never heard of her!” there are a few layers to the joke cuz like it’s supposed to be like a sarcastic interpretation of the opposite side of my view. Say like I condone proper established boundaries but the joke itself is poking at people who don’t understand them to the point that they mistake the phrase of the name of a person or something.” 


In essence, this joke appears to be used to cope typically with negative situations and to turn them around into a lighter form. In the example provided, it appears to be a reassuring gesture. A way to connect and to exaggerate the offending person’s ignorance for a situation to the point that they would not even know that “proper boundaries” is not a name, and further justify the friend’s issues with that person. 

This interpretation of the joke is much different from the way that I have seen it be used. Instead of being a slightly sexual joke playing on the way a person would either end a request with something that ends in “er,” sounding similar to “her” (“Poker? I hardly know her!”), this joke is repurposed to support and uplift friends with a familiar format with an underlying amusing tone. 

Friendship Bracelets


My informant was introduced to friendship bracelets in elementary school by friends. These bracelets remind them of past relationships, usually in a fond and positive light. They are special in the way that their power fluctuates with the way that the relationship they are connected to goes. If you are able to maintain a good relationship with them, they will retain their significance, but otherwise they lose their meaning.

My informant would wear these bracelets all the time, and could wear more than one. Sometimes they took the form of a necklace as well.

An example of a friendship bracelet my informant had was a handmade one made with tiny green beads and text beads that spells out the name of a group, signifying unity. Handmade bracelets tend to have more of a significant meaning behind them while purchasable bracelets tend to be more disposable. The bracelet they had was made years back in a middle school club meeting where everyone was making friendship bracelets. Even after a few years the meaning still holds true and they still remember how it was made. It’s spot has changed from being worn on their wrist to being attached to their phone as a phone charm, and continues to keep it’s fond memory and meaning.


Handmade objects tend to hold more memories and meaning as their creation could be a part of that story, or the labor and love that went into making it could amplify its meaning, rather than simply finding a bracelet online and purchasing a bulk made one. The uniqueness of a single hand made bracelet holds more touching meaning as it is the only one out there made in that way. It is interesting how such small objects can retain memories throughout years of life, and still be held with fondness.