OK. I’ll get back to the -isms eventually. I just have another great seventh grade line to share. Or two. A seventh grade class is the perfect straight man; they often don’t realize how funny they are, or how often they set you up for a funny line.
We’re reading The Midwife’s Apprentice right now. I only have a class set, so we’re reading it all in class, like The Outsiders. It should work out beauty, with just a couple weeks left until winter break. The kids usually like this one a lot. It has the word fart in it. There’s poop (we’re 800 years from the toilet), lots of insults, our heroine is a plucky underdog whom they all root for, and it’s funny. Everything a seventh grader could hope for.
We were talking about how, in those days (Middle Ages) most people didn’t have a last name, and were often called by whatever they did for a living: John the Miller and Walter the Smith and Stephen the Fletcher (the guy that puts the feathers on arrows) and so forth.
“So, many of the last names we have today have their origins in what our ancestors did for a living.”
Of course that prompts a flood of, “But what about…?” and lists of names that I’m supposed to translate into professions.
“Well, sometimes, it was about where you lived, like Joan at the Bridge, or about a physical characteristic you had, like the guy they call Thomas the Stutterer, in this book.”
“But what about Jones or Hayden or Meisenstein, or…Coward?”
“I’m thinking that one of my ancestors wimped out in battle or something.” Lots of “ooohs” at that. “And obviously not every name we have today originated in this way.”
Then one kid blurts out, about his own name,
“But what’s a Dickey do?”
It took all the strength I could muster not to follow that fine straight line with one or many follow-ups:
“I think you better ask Dad about the Stirrings,” or
“Not much, obviously,” or the classic
“That’s what she…”
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. See what they do to you?
Then, just today I’m checking the sentences they wrote for homework, using some of the academic words we’re working on this week. One of the words was entity. This one kid had written a pretty decent sentence using the word, and he was using it correctly… However, he evidently rushed through things a bit, and he had misspelled the word in question.
When kids misspell words they should know (or words that are on the page in front of them), I like to pronounce them the way they are misspelled. It gets lots of laughs.
“So who’s this ‘con-slor’ who’s ‘fact-ilitating’ (another academic word) this ‘meating’? And is it a meeting about meat facts? Or is this some sort of meat process I’m not aware of?” And so on.
So this kid thought the word entity had a double t before the y, AND he forgot the n. Think about it for a minute. Now imagine how you would say this out loud. Long e.
It was out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“What’s this ‘e-titty’ all about?”
In the immortal words of Mark Twain (in Tom Sawyer), “Let us close the curtain of charity over the rest of this scene.”
I’m going to check to see if the domain name is taken. 😉