Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Your brain is too tense."

..."Too tense?"

"Yeah, too-tense the size of a normal brain." (As Moe said to Curly.)

It has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post except the word "tense", but it's 1:40 a.m., I've been home for 20 minutes, I just drank a screwdriver, light on the OJ, and right now I don't care a whole bunch. (About much of anything, actually.)

(By the way, what do you call vodka with milk of magnesia? A Phillips screwdriver.)

At work, I've been moved largely into working with kids on their essays and SAT-style grammar problems, shooting videos about grammar, and proofreading and revising the school's 1000-question grammar workbook.

The proofing of kids' papers can drive me nuts after the first dozen or so; today's highlight was "she became a periodic human vegetable". But it never occurred to me until this evening just exactly how difficult English must be for these kids. Here it is:

The Korean language has no articles (a, an, the), no plurals, no differences between subject and object forms, and no verb tenses! All of these items are implied by context in Korean. Very roughly translated, a Korean might say "I sandwich two thing she make" for "I made her two sandwiches." So it's great fun to teach the kids the difference between noncount nouns (music, jewelry) and count nouns (song, necklace), articles (a dog vs. the dog), subjects and objects (I vs. me), and tenses (I went vs. I have gone). And you can just defenestrate "I will have gone." As David Steinberg said in a different context, "It's like explaining alternate-side-of-the-street parking to a cranberry."

I got off work at 1 a.m. tonight, by the way, fifteen minutes after the last kids left. I'm not jealous, though; I started at 7:30 p.m., they at 8:30 a.m.

Everybody here still crazy.

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