Kindergarten writing exercise from my niece


When my niece was in kindergarten, a regular classroom assignment was for students to write a few sentences about something happening in their lives. For one of the assignments, my niece wrote the following:

My auntie has a baby in her tumy. If it is a boy I will call him Kevin. If it is a grl I will call her Alula.

We have no idea where the name "Alula" came from.

The baby turned out to be a girl, but her aunt chose a different name.

My niece did not hold up her end of the bargain and call her new cousin "Alula".

Update: Upon further reflection, I think the proposed boy's name was "Derik", not Kevin. Not important to the story, but included for completeness.

Comments (21)
  1. Clovis says:

    Where did Kevin come from, for that matter?

  2. Rick Mc says:

    Beebop Alula, that's my baby…

  3. Speed says:

    Kindergarten students are given writing assignments?

  4. Someone You Know says:

    Has your niece been to Somalia? There is a town called Alula there, right on the pointy bit.

  5. PlexMan says:

    Uncle: If it's a girl I'll call her Denise.

    Uncle: If it's a boy I'll call him Denephew.

  6. Neil (SM) says:

    @Rick Mc: Okay, I know this is a junk comment but ROFL! Thanks for making me burst out laughing at work.

  7. Neil (SM) says:

    Hang on a minute. Your neice's Aunt. Hmmmm. Could that be…?

  8. ChrisG says:

    Niece's Aunt (an ASCII Family Tree)

        Parents                Sibling's Spouse's Parents

       /                      /  

      /                      /    

    Raymond     Sibling —- Spouse  Niece's Aunt

                 

                   

                  Niece

  9. ChrisG says:

    The comment box is a fixed font. The resulting comment is variable. My ASCII family tree failed :(

  10. Maurits says:

    Your ASCII family tree is resurrectable by pasting it into Notepad.

    English translation of the ASCII family tree: Raymond's niece's aunt is Raymond's sister-in-law.

  11. Cheong says:

    Similar things does happen…

    Chinese family have tradition to choose name (something like nickname) to call a child when he/she is young.

    Before my cousin's second daugther was born, her family have already chosen that nickname and the real name for her.

    A few month after she was born, her sister misspoken her nickname once, and that misspoken nickname (which sounds exactly like a common English name) becomes how we call her now because we think it's funny.

  12. Li Xiong says:

    It should be "tummy".

    I am using your blog to learn English…

  13. Cheong says:

    I think your niece probably mean "Aurora" because I heard a Chinese pop song named like that before.

    [My niece knows the difference between Alula and Aurora. (Aurora is the name of Sleeping Beauty.) -Raymond]
  14. Drak says:

    [… (Aurora is the name of Sleeping Beauty.) -Raymond]

    This blog teaches me something new each day!

  15. Worf says:

    @Chris G.: Thanks. I'm hlrrible at family relationships and terms. I just wish there waS an easy chart of this.

  16. Random832 says:

    Of course, "X's sister-in-law" isn't the only solution to "X's niece's aunt" – It could also mean a second sibling of X.

    "My niece's aunt" (which Raymond of course did not, in fact, say) would only be the most efficient term to describe someone if the structure is as ChrisG described but the niece's parents are not married to each other.

  17. Maurits says:

    @Worf: for "blood" relations see blogs.msdn.com/…/second-cousins-cousins-once-removed-relationships-by-generations-to-common-ancestor.aspx (doesn't include "by marriage" types of relationships like sibling-in-law)

    I see four solutions to "X's niece's aunt:"

    X has parent P1 and sibling S1, who has a daughter N.

    A has parent P2 and sibling S2, who has the same daughter N.

    Solution 1: P1 != P2, S1 != S2.  X and A are siblings-in-law, no blood relation.

    Solution 2: P1 != P2, S1 = S2.  X and A are, um, half-siblings, I guess (they have a sibling in common)

    Solution 3: P1 = P2, S1 = S2, X != A.  X and A are siblings.

    Solution 4: P1 = P2, S1 = S2, X = A.  X and A are the same person (doesn't work if X is known not to be female.)

  18. Drizzt says:

    Kindergarten students are given writing assignments?

  19. Neil (SM) says:

    You guys missed what I was saying entirely.  My point was, Raymond's neice's aunt could possibly be one of multiple siblings of Raymond or Raymond's wife. Or, it could actually be Raymond's wife herself! Which would make the daughter…well hopefully you get the point now.  Also we know Raymond is famously coy about his personal life.  Just trying to stir the pot a little for some nosy fun.

    [This sort of nosiness decreases the likelihood of my telling stories like this in the future. -Raymond]
  20. John C. says:

    I gather that your niece wrote this in English, but it reminds me of one of the aspects of Mandarin I've always found particularly challenging: the specific denotations of different members of the extended family. I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall that there are different terms not just for aunts on the paternal and maternal sides, but for aunts who are younger or older than the subject's parents. As someone who came from a smallish family and who used the word "cousin" loosely to describe any relation roughly of my generation who wasn't my sibling, it's all thoroughly confusing and delightful.

    Ah, a correction: My Taipei-born wife tells me it's actually a bit more involved than that. Aunts are differentiated by maternal and paternal side, but not by birth order. Uncles are differentiated by maternal and paternal side, and by birth order on the paternal side only. Perhaps this relates somehow to traditional inheritance rules? Cousins are named based on a 2x2x2 matrix with the dimensions maternal/paternal, older/younger, male/female. (Tang/biao for paternal/maternal, followed by ge/di for older/younger male, just like brothers, or jie/mei for older/younger female, like sisters. Hope I got that right.)

  21. JohnCKirk says:

    Speed and Drizzt said: "Kindergarten students are given writing assignments?"

    I'm reminded of a scene from Avenue Q.

    Princeton: "What are you doing tonight?"

    Kate: "Grading term papers. But it's kindergarten, so they're very short."

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