Small Talk
Tiger blood
May 22nd, 2013

Kids crack me up. Olivia's way of seeing the world or knowing about it is just funny.

At school, they had a year-end celebration in which a shave ice truck came out one day after classes. "It was so awesome! I wanted to bring some of my shave ice home for you to try but I couldn't because it would melt! Can you come next year so you can order yourself a shave ice? I want you to see how great it is!" she bubbled. That is very caring and sweet.

"Thanks for thinking about me, Dear," I said. "Tell me about your shave ice. What flavor did you have?"

"I had half banana, half strawberry, half vanilla, and a drop of tiger blood on top!" she described.

Every time she uses the word "half" it cracks me up because she doesn't get the concept of "half." We've tried to teach her all year but it's not sticking yet. So she uses it to mean "part."

The tiger blood threw me off. So she's Charlie Sheen now?

"What does tiger blood taste like," I asked.

"It's dark red like strawberry but better!" she told me.

Well. That sounds like WINNING! to me.

One Response to “Tiger blood”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    It's interesting that a child's mind thinks "half" can be used to mean any fractional portion. In Hawaii, most people use the word "hapa" exactly like Olivia uses the word "half." It's easy to see that "hapa" is the Hawaiianized spelling of "half" sort of like "Keneke" is the Hawaiianized version of "Kenneth." So technically "hapa" should mean "half" but in daily life it is used to mean "part" and not necessarily 50%.

    A person of mixed race is described as "hapa" even when the person might have three or more racial ancestries (like Olivia!), or even when the portions might be far different from 50%. The word "hapa" has spread to the mainland, where California teenagers or twenty-somethings who are mostly Japanese or Chinese or Filipina call themselves "hapa" even when they have no Hawaiian ancestry, don't speak either pidgin or Hawaiian, and have no connection with Hawaii.

    Hawaiian language allows specific fractions using "hapa" and a suffix identifying the number in the denominator of the fraction. Since 'elua is 2, hapalua means precisely 1/2. Since 'ekolu is 3, hapakolu means 1/3. 'Eha is 4, so hapaha means 1/4. Etc. But if the speaker of Hawaiian or pidgin doesn't know the exact fraction, or chooses to be vague, then the word is simply "hapa" without any number. Just like Olivia says!

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