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Idiomatic idioms..

Muriel2017Having taught some poor souls struggling with the complexities of the English language, I know what a son-of-a-bitch idioms can be. They don’t say what they mean and even kids born into English speaking families are sometimes confused by them.

My own son, at three, opened those

Baby Rafi and sue

Little Rafi with big sister Susan

big eyes of his in terror when my friend told him she was picking him up from nursery school because his dad was ‘tied up’. She quickly noticed Rafi’s distress and explained his dad was just too busy to come. Whew!

A son of Polish immigrants painfully related what happened long ago in his 7th grade woodworking class. Dissatisfied with his sanding job, the instructor told him to use more ‘elbow grease’. Having no idea what that meant, he told his teacher he didn’t have any. I hope teachers today would be kinder, but he was sent to ask another teacher to ask for  some. He’s never forgotten how embarrassed he was when that teacher and his whole class burst into laughter.

raining caats dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs

When I taught an adult night class, I had one student who loved idioms. He’d regularly watch English TV and bring in the idioms he didn’t understand and ask me to explain them. He brought in many, including ‘The buck stops here; The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and Don’t upset the apple cart’.

 

3ladies

We live in a rain forest

We live in a rain forest. It happened to pour the evening I told him we’d say: ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’. I then asked what they’d say in Chinese. He seemed uncomfortable and said he couldn’t tell me. I didn’t push it. The next week, he came into class. came up to me and said ‘I can tell you now. We say ‘It’s raining dog excrement.’

I didn’t laugh. But I found the whole incident hilarious and have never forgotten it! Well, we’ve had a whole lot of rain lately and it’s been raining dog excrement for weeks for sure! Enough already….

angrybull

Enough already!

 

 

iBears

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I love that you do. Enjoy whatever you are celebrating — and may 2020 be kind to us all.

 

Inglish? English?

 

Muriel from BlogJust before Valentine’s Day, over breakfast at a local cafe, I noticed a new sign reading “Who Do You Love?” I thought about it for a moment and that it should be “Whom do you love?”, but I didn’t say anything nor check it when I got home.

First of all, I gave my trusty grammar book to a lovely young student who has kindly helped me with computer woes which I have now and then, and although I may be right, I didn’t bother with Google, because somehow it didn’t matter to me. Interesting…..

I used to care a lot about the English language. In a way, I still do. I love it. It is full of possibilities and can be wonderfully expressive and great fun. I enjoy words and playing with them, but something is happening.

Aside from the fact that at times I now find myself searching for words I know I know and want but can’t retrieve, I don’t seem to be as distressed by seeing/hearing what I may consider poor grammar. Am I mellowing?

Years ago, one of my children’s third grade teachers told me “She did good.” It was good news, because this particular child didn’t always do “good”. Even so, my insides cringed with the knowledge that this woman, who was teaching my child, would be so careless with the language. It bothered me so much, I still remember it! However, I’ve now accepted that language is a changing, growing, flexible thing and that’s

This woman was teaching my child. I was distressed she misused the language.

This woman was teaching my child. I was distressed she misused the language.

what makes it so intriguing. Seems I’m rolling with the punches.

Once, I chose to write an anti-gun column. It was reproduced on a pro-gun website, after which I received hundreds of negative emails, some nasty, some even theatening, but mostly from people with terrible spelling. I was more bothered by the poor spelling than the threats and had to resist the urge to

He can shoot. But can he spell????

He can shoot. But can he spell????

correct the first 10 or so and return them to sender. (I gave up on reading the rest and just deleted them unread.) My own readers responded positively.

There are certainly things I would change myself in our language if I had my way, particularly with spelling. After having tutored ESL students, I am very aware of how tricky English spelling can be. For instance, why do we need a “b” in “plumber”, or at the end of “bomb”? Why use “ph” when we mean “f”? On and on it goes — most confusing.

My own new English spelling would look something like this: Wat sens duz it mak to spel thum with a “b” wen we don’t prononz it that way? Why mudle thru speling lik the word “through” wich merly confuzes the ishu?

English spelling is especially tricky for ESL students.

English spelling is especially tricky for ESL students.

I also used to warn my ESL students not to rely on their computer spell-checks. (I don’t know how to use mine.) It wouldn’t catch words that are misused if what you have written happens to correctly spell another word. Thus, I was delighted when a friend sent me the following poem.

Beware of computer spell-checkers.

Beware of computer spell-checkers.

“Spell Checker”.

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

“Who wrote it?” I asked.

“Sauce unnown.”

P.S. Write me and let me know what brings you to my blog. I’d love that.