When I was browsing the web, I came across this irate, profanity laced letter to an English teacher. While I found the teacher’s handling of it amusing, it’s also somewhat appalling. Yes, this missive is filled with errors, but so are the teacher’s corrections. Now, I’m not claiming to be a grammarian. I’m not a copy-editor (I love those guys. I want one for Christmas.) I make grammatical mistakes—sometimes intentionally (It’s for effect if anyone asks.) —all the time. I can do that since I’m not an English teacher.
Can you imagine me giving a vocabulary lesson?
“Now class, altogether…What do we say when someone cut’s us off on the freeway? ‘Ass-munching-goat-fucker!’ Okay, that was just pitiful. Let’s try that again. And this time, really commit to it. Better. Now, for my Latino students… ‘Maldita sea la madre que te parió!’ * Huff of exasperation * C’mon guys, if you don’t say it with feeling, it’s wasted.”
Yeah, so not a wise choice. But aren’t English teachers supposed to know this shit?
The run-on sentence correction? Yep, there’s something wrong there. But instead of just writing run-on sentence like a gigantic egocentric douche—you think that means anything to this kid—why not make note of the missing period (or comma and conjunction) and pronoun? It’s less writing for you, and you’d actually be teaching the student how to fix it?
But the next supposed error is the one that really chap’s my hide. “Hey Teach, this is English, not Latin.” And because it’s English, it’s okay to start sentences with conjunctions (you can even split infinitives… c’mon let’s go crazy.) More about grammar myths and misconceptions
As for the incorrect capitalization: “Fuck You, Fuck Eng…,” if the capitalization was to give it more punch (as I believe,) that’s also acceptable, and I say well done. As for finding a better synonym, if this teacher knows a better, more evocative way to say ‘Fuck You,’ then I’d like to hear it, the first pitcher’s on me.
Moving on, why would anyone write: “…fuck that, too, and any other…” Think about it. What is that comma really doing, “…fuck that *pause* too *pause* and any other…” The only thing that first comma does, is create a choppy disjointed sentence. “…fuck that too, or any other…” or “…fuck that too, and any other…” makes more sense. And why change the conjunction in that sentence to and? I would argue, since the writer is referring to an indeterminate amount of work, using or is actually be more accurate.
Growing up, teachers like this were the bane of my dysgraphic existence. After a year’s worth of “run-on sentences” without explanation, I’d be ready to say, “Fuck You, too.” Perhaps this teacher should follow his/her own advice at the bottom of the page,
“Please use your education appropriately. Proofreading takes five minutes… ”
then he/she wouldn’t receive these kind of letters. But I doubt that’s going to happen. The demonstrated ignorance and unprofessional closing dig,
“and keeps you from looking stupid.”
tell me all I need to know about this person.
And to all the competent English teachers, the ones that love language and teaching, thank you for sharing that love (no matter how twisted it’s become) with me. Cheers!