Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You say potato, I hear rutabaga

A couple of weeks ago, I laughed as I read Holly's post about mispronunciations. Ever since, I've been remembering my favourite brushes with inaccurate language. Some of the funniest phrases I've encountered have actually been in writing. My top five include examples from both the spoken and written word.

1. My roommate in university used to refer to someone who was a little uncouth as "a country pumpkin" instead of "a country bumpkin."

2. During my first year teaching, one of my Grade 12 media students did a whole presentation on a print ad from the United Parcel Service, referring to it as "ups" the whole time, instead of "U.P.S." I could barely keep a straight face.

3. Every time I taught Elie Wiesel's Night to Grade 11 English students, inevitably one of them would write an essay referring to the way the Jews were used as "escape goats" by the Nazis.

4. While working at the C.N.E., my sister was proof reading a media release written by another summer student that included the line "now that we are in the mitts of the fair . . ." Her coworker dismissed the idea that it was supposed to be "in the midst," arguing that going through the fair was something like being deep inside mitts. What?

5. My favourite Grade 12 academic-level essay included - in the student's rough drafts and final polished essay - the phrase "self-of-steam." As in, one of the causes of Oedipus' downfall was his low self-of-steam. Oedipus had such low self-of-steam that he could not recognize his own fate. Or why he did not get a high grade in this assignment.

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