When I meet an English person and tell them what I do for a living, I am occasionally rewarded with a pudgy finger in my face, and a bellowed “YOU CAWN’T TEACH ENGLISH! YOU’RE OIRISH!” They then turn to their equally linguistically-challenged mates and all have a good old belly laugh at my expense. As most of these buffoons can barely string an intelligible sentence together, I usually laugh too. If I were to retort using any ‘big words’, they’d probably think I was speaking Irish.
My students, however, also like to play the ‘Irish’ card. When they come out with a sentence so appalling that it actually makes me wince, they respond to my groans with “Maybe it’s only wrong in Irish English” or “Maybe it’s right in American English but you just don’t know”. No. No it isn’t. It is an assault on the English language, be it Irish English, British English, American English, Canadian English, Australian English… (I usually run out of breath around here.)
Yesterday, I was accused by a blog reader of “falsificating” the dialogue in my previous post. This is not a verb in English but I can, at least, understand where it comes from – ”falsificēt” in Latvian. However, I do have one student who defies all logic – Latvian or otherwise – and befuddles me beyond belief. I call him “Dangering” as this was the only adjective he “knew” when I first met him. Everything was “dangering” – getting a haircut, a painting in his apartment, a meal he’d once had in a restaurant… it took me around three lessons (and approximately 400 lines under the OUS in “dangerOUS” to convince him that “dangering” was not a word and to stop him using it.
We recently moved on to word families.
Me: OK, if the adjective is ‘intelligent’, what is the noun?
Dangering: Intelligented, intelliging, intelligentician, intelligentness…
Me: GAH! STOP! It’s intelligence! Intelligence! (I take a deep breath) OK, next, if the adjective is ‘tired’, what is the noun?
Dangering: Tiredation, tiredician, tiredhood, tireding, tireded…
Me: (I tear the last hair out of my head and softly weep)
And of course, it doesn’t stop there. You’re probably aware of the recent addition of the word “selfie” to the Oxford English Dictionary. (Oh, how I hate that word and concept!) What you may not be aware of is that the Latvians have also been stealthily adding new words such as those mentioned above, or amending the meanings of existing ones.
Luckily, I’m here to keep an eye on things or the New English Dictionary (According to Jānis) might look a little something like this:
kidnap – a short sleep a child has in the middle of the day
Parents love kidnapping because then they get to have some peace and quiet.
blackmail – post sent by black people
Michelle: Hey O’! I’m putting together our Christmas blackmail list – anyone we should add?*
(*Yes, the apostrophe is intentional – he is part Irish, after all.)
cooker – a person who cooks
My mother is a wonderful cooker.
whore – an organised group of people singing together, especially at church services
All God’s creatures have a place in the whore, some sing low and some sing higher…
to eat on – to put on (weight)
to put out – to eat out
She’s eating on weight because she’s always putting out.
I assured the student in question that if she was always putting out, chances are she’d be losing weight but I think it was lost on him.