A Funny Story!


During the summer of 1997, some months after I had posted my bood webpage, I was in Mountain View, CA visiting with my good friends Vicki Johnson and Mike Raugh, President and VP of Interconnect Technologies, a high tech firm doing research in digital libraries among other things. Well, I was telling them about this amazing concept of 'bood,' of the Semai, an aboriginal people who live on the Malay penisula. I was telling them how it means reluctant or shy, and if you say "I bood," it means "I don't feel like it." I elaborated that in this society, the parents don't punish the children, and if a child says "I bood," then it's the end of the conversation, there is no coercion. The parents don't force the child to do something it doesn't want to.

Mike said he was having a hard time following my explanation in the beginning. "Bood? Is this booed, like someone booing you from an audience. Or is it the Halloween word: Boo! to scare someone?" Mike can speak quite a few languages, and so was fascinated by the story. In fact, while driving my wife and I to this Afghanistan restaurant, he played a tape of some strange sounding language, and asked me to identify it. I think I said Russian. It was Finnish. (Now Mike, download these sample sounds and guess what language it is or where they came from! 74KB.wav 740KB.wav )

Anyway, I continued to tell my story, of how a young doctoral candidate in anthropology had been sent down from England to study the Semai. I mentioned that the student liked the people so much, that he made his stay permanent, eventually marrying a Semai women. I said that the student never went back.

Then Mike then piped up and said "I got it! He said to his thesis advisor 'I bood!' "

The End.

After writing this story, I found out some more info: that I had been pronouncing the word "bood" wrong! Actually the oo is a long "o", as in oh!

Also the student's name was Dick Noone, and whether he was sent, is unknown, but it is true that he did not finish his Ph.D. Unfortunately, he was blowpiped to death sometime later, and this is another fascinating story.


Last updated 19 May1999

Copyright © 1999 by Duen Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.

E-mail: yen@noogenesis.com

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