June 10, 2008

Can't Speak English

Recent problems in the classroom.

Me: Are they a boy or a girl?
Teacher: You can't say that to the students. It's not correct.
Me: But that's what we say. They have to learn how people speak.
Teacher: ...
Me: *sigh* okay...
The singular they is, as far as I can tell, legitimate English.

Teacher: Can you explain the difference between anybody and anyone?
Me: *long explanation with examples* No... wait, but you could use anyone there too... I don't know!
Teacher: One is colloquial.
Me: Huh. *Proceed to forget which one as soon as I look it up, but I do remember it comes from the 1500s, so I would think it's a bit more standard by now*

Spellcheck: No.
Me: What? "Themself." That is so a word.
Spellcheck: No, it isn't.
Me: Okay... Theirself.
Spellcheck: Nope, total shibboleth, impostor. Try again?
Me: Why is everything I say wrong?

Have you confused the vulgar for the vulgate recently? Like questioning the foundations of everything you say? Join me in no grammar land. Teach for the Jet Programme. Bad spellers welcome.
Lets share an anecdote of studying Japanese. I often think in weird accents for the sake of mnemonics. For instance じしゃく (magnet) is a French guy saying, "zi shaku of ze maginet, it is cause by ze electricity." Or how about たいせい which takes the accent of Mickey Blue Eyes, imitating a gangster badly... "The TAItans SEIt-up the system before the gods smaIked em down". Very circuitous process I have here. "Get the heill outta heah."