Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Attempting to teach English in the zoo.

Today I spent some time teaching Elijah about paragraphs - unity, clarity, topic sentences, that kind of stuff. In the process, we read a LOT of paragraphs looking for examples of the things we were studying. One of them was taken from a report on Giant Pandas. In this particular paragraph, the writer was telling about the eating habits of Pandas in the wild, and here's what she said: Pandas spend about sixteen hours throughout the day and night eating.

I stopped in mid-paragraph and had an a-ha moment. I looked at Elijah and said, "You're a Giant Panda!" My humor was lost on him.

Then just a few minutes ago Abbie asked this question: "Doesn't the d-word mean the same thing as saying 'oh crap?'"

I answered in the affirmative.

She went on, "Well then, when they say somebody's a d*** good whatever, isn't that like saying he's a 'crap good whatever?'"

The English, it is so confusing. I explained that sometimes the d-word is used as an expletive expressing frustration, and sometimes it's used to show emphasis, as in "really good."

She thought about that for a minute and said, "Oh, so I guess it's like 'dude,' kind of an all-purpose word."

And THAT reminded me of the time we were visiting some incredibly intelligent, well-spoken friends of ours. We were sitting around the table talking about teenagers and the way they talk. We actually heard this sentence out of a real-live teenager's mouth: "Dude, dude, that dude is tall!" and I am not making this up. That's dude - an exclamation, dude - noun of direct address, and dude - a noun meaning guy or man.

No wonder immigrants don't want to learn English.

Be thankful ~



Leah said...

You're such a nerd, Mom. I love you.

Jennifer said...

Yipes...I'm not even sure I want to "learn" English :) Then again, that special language of the teenager...is that even English?? Cute post - and, yes, I am thankful!

JenIG said...

When we lived in Germany (in the 80s) I remember hearing a conversation where this German lady, who was a singer, was having an impossible time understanding the phrase "... the doggone girl is mine" in a Michael Jackson song.

Nobody could explain it to her. I still don't understand it, either.