No chewing tobacco and no ‘ain’t.’ (Nascar YA series)
But, no ain’t is a double negative!
I’m not a professor, and it’s not really a stupid question, but…
I was talking to a fifth grade class (at a private school), and a boy raised his hand and asked, “At what point in the writing process do you know where to put in the motifs?”
I’ve always imagined them like ice cream jimmies, or glitter: you spread the page with glue then sprinkle on the motifs, and just tap off the excess.
I would take this to mean that the boy knew when to put in tifs, but was not sure when to put in MO tifs (or, how many MO tifs to put in).
Runner-up was a ten-year-old girl who asked (verbatim): At what point in your career do you expect your grandeur to eclipse that of J. K. Rowling?
(Can’t remember what I actually said, but what I was thinking was, “Oh, when pigs fly out of my butt, kid.”)
Maureen Kincaid Speller
It’s rather difficult to say anything about my adventures in copy-editing without identifying the accidentally guilty, but I have derived regrettably far too much joy over the years from watching people muddle ‘pallet’ and ‘palette’ and ‘palate’; one character did indeed spend the night asleep in a pile of paints, while another novel had mysteriously morphed into a tasty cannibal horror story when I turned the page, after the character apparently fell asleep in the roof of someone’s mouth.
Outside the genre, I was once asked to assess a writer’s unpublished manuscript, a biography of his wife, who had led a remarkably interesting life, on top of which she had suffered a debilitating illness, requiring the writer to nurse her back to health. It was well written and fascinating in its way though it had little commercial potential.
However, the most remarkable thing about it was that the writer did not once mention his wife by name at all. No surname, no forename, no means of identifying her in her own right. Nothing.
When I noted this in my report, I was informed it was a stylistic device, intended to create some distance between subject and author, so as not to distract from her achievements. I ran out of eyebrow to raise when I read that.
I’ll just share one of my favorite stupid things said BY a teacher and to Christopher, not even to me. Christopher’s seventh grade science teacher told his class that, “Dogs are cold-blooded. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to sleep outside in the winter.”
Gwenda does remind me of the time in 5th grade that I was sent to the principal for insisting to my teacher that water did in fact conduct electricity, despite her statement to the contrary. On reflection, however, perhaps I shouldn’t have challenged her to drop a radio into the tub the next time she was bathing …
When our son was younger, we did run into a grade school English teacher who insisted that “tropical” was spelled “tropicle” and marked our son wrong for not spelling it that way, and who insisted that she was right even when shown the word in a dictionary.