Hildegarde

Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

News from the Front

with 5 comments

So, today–

I had a student who didn’t know that pig Latin was different than actual Latin.

I’m not really writing a post here.  I’m just sort of completely floored.

Not that it was the only wrong note in the bunch today, because there were a lot.  But you see what I’m up against.

I tried explaining that Latin had evolved into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, Romanian, etc, and got indignant demands to explain why there’d be so many different ones–I don’t know if my explanation that there was no Internet or television or radio to keep everybody on the same track worked or not.

I suppose this beats the time one of them thought that “Latin” meant “Spanish,” and refused to believe that there was ever a separate language.

But I protest–good writing is not a lot of emotional, airy stuff.  It’s concise, strongly worded, particular and strong.

Unlike all those polite little epiphanies about, I don’t know, life lessons in the apple trees.

Or whatever.

I’ve got to go see if my next class knows…well, anything.

Written by janeh

October 7th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'News from the Front'

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  1. Hmmm. Better you than me. The temptation to string along your Pig Latinist might be too much for me. But there is surely some special category for the Latin=Spanish fellow clinging to his false belief. (I suppose this is what comes of having Latinas and Latin America.) As for the branching off of languages, obviously this is not the class to introduce to Grimm’s Law, Do they understand enough about regional accents and English English vs American English for the analogy to be useful? As late as WWII, an uncle of mine had to translate for telephone operators because the Connecticut and Kentucky long distance operators couldn’t understand one another. Radio and later televison would eventually make a tremendous difference. I’m told that’s only now happening in the Spanish-speaking world.

    On your long-standing theme of minimal cultural knowledge: at the height of the financial crisis, the ECONOMIST had a cartoon accompanying an article. It showed four bears in black cloaks riding horses. The first was on a white horse, carrying a bow, the second on a red horse carrying a sword, the third bore scales, and the fourh a scythe. You–or any ECONOMIST reader–would know the color of the horses obscured in the drawings, though note the scythe is not mentioned in Revelations–Durer, perhaps?–and St John himself would have had no idea of the significance of the bears. It is helpful sometimes to think of culture as a caravan, with wagons joining and leaving as the march of time progresses. The mix varies generation to generation, but there is always some continuity.
    A class which looks at that cartoon and sees ewoks or hokas gone to war just won’t be getting full value from the ECONMIST subscription.

    robert_piepenbrink

    7 Oct 09 at 6:03 pm

  2. Oh my – the worst that happened in my classes today was when I mentioned the influence of Bob Dylan, my students all asked, “who was he?”

    Gail

    7 Oct 09 at 7:19 pm

  3. Sure. They all know what designer Paris Hilton wears, how to tweet, and how many Red Bulls they can drink before they die.

    Their ass from a hole in the ground, not so much.

    What floors me is that while not knowing this stuff, they have the cast-iron gall to doubt what you tell them. What? Has any of them *ever* had better information than you do on history or literature? What motivation would you have to misinform them?

    It’s one thing to be ignorant. It’s another to reject education when it’s offered.

    Lymaree

    7 Oct 09 at 8:56 pm

  4. And just as it was starting to appear that even the thickest of union-bound “educationist” was starting to get the message about the importance of a firm grounding in the 3Rs, along comes this:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/10/08/2708289.htm?section=justin

    Sigh!

    Mique

    7 Oct 09 at 9:26 pm

  5. Just looked at Mique’s article – I’m confused – how is teamwork a ‘more complex skill”? Notably missing is the mention of critical thinking.

    Gail

    8 Oct 09 at 11:13 am

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