JUST SAY HIC
Before you Read:
1. How do you make yourself remember something?
2. What does "hic" mean?
penny servant stream suppose to chanted
surprise bless smell confused stall
1. Once there was and twice there wasn't, there was a foolish servant boy
One day Hasan's master called him and said, "Hasan, here is a penny.
Go to the market and buy some salt. Do not forget what you are sent for." His
master knew that Hasan forgot in a minute what he was told to do.
"Oh no sir," said Hasan, "I won't forget."
Hasan took the money and put it into the pocket of his baggy pants. "Salt,
salt, salt," he thought. "How will I remember 'salt'?" He wanted to remember so
badly... "I know. I will just say it over and over, all the way to the market. Then I
will remember. Hic, hic, hic, I will say that all the way to the market."
In this part of Turkey, the common word for salt was "Hic" (pronounced
heech). Hasan repeated "Hic, hic, hic, hic, hic, hic," as he walked down the road
to the market.
He kept saying "Hic, hic, hic" when he stopped to watch a fisherman at a
In this village, the word "hic" also means "nothing." To the fisherman it
seemed that Hasan was saying "Nothing, nothing, nothing..." And what do you
think that fisherman caught...? NOTHING.
2. "You're not supposed to say that," said the angry fisherman.
"What am I supposed to say?" asked Hasan, surprised and frightened by
the fisherman's anger.
"You should say "May there be five or ten of them! May there be five or
ten." That's what you must say."
Hasan began to repeat, "May there be five or ten of them." And of course,
he forgot "Hic, hic, hic." as he walked to the market.
On the road, he met a funeral. They were carrying a dead man to be
buried. "May there be five or ten of them. May there be five or ten of them,"
Hasan chanted to himself,
A woman in the crowd heard Hasan and she said to him, "Boy, you should
not be saying that!"
Hasan was surprised. "Then what should I be saying?"
"You must say "May God bless his soul! May God bless his soul! That's
what you say."
Hasan practiced, "May God bless his soul!" over and over. When he was
sure he could remember what he was supposed to say, he walked on to the
He was saying "May God bless his soul!" when he stopped to look at a
dead fish in the road. Just then a man came along and heard Hasan saying
"May God bless his soul" to the fish.
3. "Boy, you must be crazy. You're not supposed to say that!" said the man.
Hasan was puzzled again. "What should I be saying, then?
"You should say, "Ugh, what a smell! Ugh, what a terrible smell!"
That is true, thought Hasan, and repeated "Ugh! What a smell! Ugh, What
a terrible smell," said Hasan, holding this nose.
Three ladies stepped out of a Turkish bath, right in front of Hasan, as he
said "Ugh, what a smell! Ugh, what a terrible smell!'
"How can you say that? We are clean and shiny? You are a terrible boy."
Poor Hasan was really confused now. "What am I supposed to say?"
"Say 'My, how nice! Oh, how lovely' That is what you should say.
All three ladies agreed that he must say, "Oh, how nice! Oh, how lovely."
Hasan bowed and said, "Thank you, ladies. I will say 'Oh how nice! Oh,
how lovely," and that is what he did as he went walking toward the market.
He was still chanting, "Oh, how nice! Oh, how lovely!" when he stopped to
watch two men fighting in the middle of the road.
He said "My how nice" when the first man hit the second man and "Oh,
how lovely! when the second man hit the first man.
3. Both men heard this; they stopped fighting and they both hit Hasan over
the head. "Stop! Stop Boy! You should not be saying that," they shouted at him.
"Oooohhh... I'm sorry....What should I say?" he asked.
You should say, "Stop FIGHTING, good sirs! Don't fight, please."
Hasan went on down the road saying "Stop FIGHTING, good sirs! Don't
Just then, he saw two dogs fighting and he kept saying "Stop FIGHTING,
good sirs! Don't fight please." He watched the dogs with great interest and kept
repeating his new words. He was saying this to the two dogs.
"Are you crazy? You should not say that" said a man nearby.
"What am I supposed to say?
"Just say "Get out, dog. Go away, dog." So that is what Hasan did as he
entered the market. "Get out, dog. Go away, dog."
At that moment, Hasan watched a shoemaker working on a shoe. He said,
"Get out dog. Go Away dog." Well, this made the shoemaker very angry. The
shoemaker thought he was calling HIM a DOG! He shouted at him, "The dog is
yourself! You should not be saying that."
"Ooooohhh, said Hasan, "Please don't be angry with me. Tell me what I
am supposed to say?"
The shoemaker said, "Boy, YOU should say nothing! Just say HIC!"
"Oh, thank you!" said Hasan, happily. That's what I was supposed to
remember!" And he went to the next stall and bought the salt with the penny in
He went home very happy.
I. Choose the best word to complete each sentence
penny servant supposed to stream bless smell
1. Hasan didn't know what he was ____________________ say.
2. He chanted "May God ____________ his soul."
3. Hasan is a __________ boy for his master.
4. The fisherman was fishing at a _____________
5. The ladies did not have a terrible _____________ .
6. The master gave him a ______________ to buy salt.
II. NOW YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK
1. What is funny about this story?
2. Is there a lesson in this story?
3. When do adults correct children in this way?
III. PRACTICE Change these to the past tense. Then turn them into questions.
Example: She surprises Hasan. She surprised Hasan. Was Hasan surprised?
1. Hasan is confused.
2. He chants 'hic, hic, hic".
3. He buys the salt at the next stall.
IV. FINISH THE SENTENCE: Draw a line to make a correct sentence.
1. Hasan is not a. a dead fish in the road.
2. The fisherman was not b. Hasan to say "Hic."
3. Hasan saw c. what he was supposed to say
4. The fighting men hit Hasan d. for saying "My how nice."
5. Hasan did not know e. a smart boy.
6. The shoemaker told f. catching any fish.
V. NOW YOU WRITE
1. Write a character description of Hasan.
2. Write a summary of the story in 10 to 15 sentences.
VI. ROLE PLAY: Students take roles, plan a short dialogue and act it out.
1. Hasan and his master. The master sends him to the market.
2. Hasan and the two ladies: they are angry with him.
3. Hasan with the two men fighting. They tell him what to do.
4. Hasan, his father & his mother. They argue about what he should do.
5 Hasan, and the shoemaker. They talk about what he is supposed to say.
X. Story Theater
1. Divide students into four groups.
2. Assign each group a section of the story.
3. Students read their section, decide on their parts. If possible, change
everything to dialog. Students may freely adapt description into dialog. They may
choose any props they have on hand or use any actions.
4. Students practice their section for 15-20 minutes in their own groups.
5. Students line up in their groups, 1, 2, 3, 4. They read/perform the story, one
group after another, trying to make the story theater flow from one part to the
6. If students do a good job, they could go to another class to perform their story
theater for others.