Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Contextually correct swearing.

October 29, 2014

I have a potty mouth. I’m sorry, I just do. I think it’s because my father has a potty mouth. He swore like a trooper as I grew up, so I guess I picked it up off him, but what does it matter, I am what I am, and I swear like a trooper. I could probably make an effort to change, but I can’t. I’ve tried.

Anyhow, I’ve said this before, but bears repeating it again here. I teach in China, and I spend a lot of time trying to get the students to speak English. It’s hard work. I’m in China. The students are Chinese. They’re going to want to speak Chinese. It’s a battle to get them to speak English, but I’ll keep “fighting the good fight.” till I leave.

I said all that to say this. I was asking the students some questions, when I got a surreal comment from one of the students. He said “Wait, wait, I f***ing know this.”, which made me laugh. Now I don’t usually laugh at swearing, but as far as I’m aware, that might be a correct time to swear. What surprised me was the comment I got off a colleague when I related the story in the staffroom. I was told it was “disrespectful” to me and all staff. Now don’t get me wrong, I told the kid if he said it in future, it wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate,, but swearing comes with a context, doesn’t it? He didn’t mean to be rude by it, so I didn’t offence. It’s not the words that are the offending item, it’s the intention behind them that’s important, and this kid wasn’t being rude, he was just getting excited.

I am right on that aren’t I?

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…….

October 30, 2013

I was invigilating our mid term exams today, and during the Biology exam that our first years took, they were asked to “Draw and label the underside of the leaf.” next too a picture of a leaf.

I saw one child draw a perfect mirror image of the leaf in the question, and label it “This is the underside of the leaf on the left.” I don’t know about you, but I think they might expect a little more detail than that.

One of the more surreal things happened to me over the weekend

May 13, 2013

I was coming back from Shanghai, and caught a cab home from the station. Zhenhai is pretty much a Ningbo outer suburb, which means the cab drivers are iffy about getting a fare back or really don’t know where it is.

When trying to establish where I want to go the coversation invariable runs like this…..

“Zhenhai” (me)

“Zhunhai” (Driver)

“Yes Zhenhai” (me)




Anyhow if I get stressed about not being understood in Chinese, I start breaking into Polish. It’s usually just stuff Tak Nie (yes or no) or Naprawde (really), but on this trip I was halfway through “Prawo Lewo Pawo Tunel Prawo” (Right left right tunnel right) that I realised I was doing it, and that’s not happened in years.