“Writer, how do you pronounce that word? Bak kut zee, is it?” my colleague asked.

I looked at her with a puzzled look on my face. “What?” I asked.

“Those people that take photos,” she said.

“Paparazzi,” I said, thinking whether or not to use a play on the pope’s name to help her remember it.

I later overheard her giving the correct pronunciation to another Mandarin-speaking colleague who committed pa pa la ji (father rubbish) to memory.

I’m glad I didn’t.

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