Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nosiness as a language tool

In high school I took one year of French. Because I’ve never had the opportunity to use it, I’ve retained very little, although I can still sing a mean first verse of “La Marsaillaise.”

A couple of years ago I invested in “Spanish for Dummies,” thinking I’d learn it so I could speak more easily with my neighbor from Columbia. But while “Spanish for Dummies” gathered dust on my shelf, my neighbor improved her English at such a rapid rate that I didn’t need Spanish anymore.

Still, I am bilingual. A second language was spoken in my home when I was very small, a language used by the adults to speak in my presence about things they didn’t want me to hear. Before I was three, I had mastered it and understood everything they said:

“Opstay erhay! Eshay isyay oloringcay onyay ethay allsway.”

“An’tcay ouyay akemay erhay utshay upyay? Eshay isyay ivingdray emay azycray.”

“Issusmay Onesjay oldtay emay atthay ethay ilkmayanmay ayedstay inyay Issusmay Ithsmay’s ousehay orfay ortyfay-ivefay inutesmay Uesdaytay.”

The grown-ups were shocked when I started speaking Pig Latin back to them. After that, they resorted to spelling all their secrets when I was around. And for that, I give belated credit to my family, who unintentionally paved the way for the eighth-grade spelling champ of Jarrett Jr. High School.


  1. Oh, if I could have one wish--I would be a speller! I am a very poor speller. The educational system in our country has changed over the years. We go through phases and then go back to the ones we have used before. The Sisters went to school in a day that phonics was not taught. If a student was lucky and had a teacher from the "old school" they got phonics. I was not. I was taught to spell by sight and rememberation! A stupid system. My Grandparents could spell any word they heard. They had spelling bees at home for entertainment! I don't think my Dad did very well at them. Spelling was not a gift he wanted to receive!

    Phonics is back--thank heaven--maybe my Grandchildren will learn to spell. Even my children are better spellers than I.

    The educational system today is set up around learning strands. Each strand has a number. Our old numbers were like 2.1.3 showing a three step numeration. A few years ago, they changed it to a two numeration which would look like this 2.1 with no third division.

    I have spent 2 years of my life, altering our curriculum to fit the standards. All my learnings were neatly assigned to the new system with the day and lesson it was being taught. Yesterday at school, I got a little present in my mail box...Arkansas had issued a new curriculum for my subject and guess what? They have now a three numbering system again..back to 2.1.3...I have taught for 33 years. I don't think I can do this again. Some idiot sits in an office and makes rules that I have to play by instead of spending my time...educating!!

    Please excuse me for sounding off...but need to know I am the obsessive compulsive Sister who stands on Galla Rock!

  2. Betty, my daughters are only two years apart but started school in different states. One daughter was taught to read by phonics and is an avid reader today. The other was taught by sight and had a difficult time of it. Even today, reading is more of a chore than a pleasure for her.


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