Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Don't You Just Love the English Language?

Every year, when I get the first set of papers from students, I look forward to (or do I dread) reading them.

There are always some mistakes that are so funny they cause me to laugh. Homophones provide much of the humor. English has so many words that sound alike--and for whatever reasons, students seem particularly prone to using just the wrong word in the right situation.

I wrote about this phenomena last year, and you can see the mistakes from that semester here.

Here's the new gathering of hilarious mistakes. I will start with the more mundane ones:

What the student said----------What the student meant
there--------------------------------their
then---------------------------------than
where-------------------------------were
maybe------------------------------ may be
rite--------------------------------- right

Now the more amusing ones:
What the student said----------What the student meant
pasted----------------------------passed (as in died)
exponentially----------------------exceptionally
existent--------------------------exist
mist------------------------------missed (as in missed the train)
back round-----------------------background
ferrous---------------------------feral (as in cats--of course, ferrous cats are those iron ones!)

And my favorite:
O-zone-------------------------- ozone (maybe the student meant as in O-zone, not P-Zone or Q-zone)

Ahh, teaching English. A source of endless amusement.

15 comments:

Beth said...

These are funny. I passed it on to my husband who is grading his first batch of high school english essays as we speak.

Anvilcloud said...

Those first few in the first list never stop coming. While I admit to having made one or two of these slips (on rare occasions) by momentarily casting my brain elsewhere, I should have sympathy with thee people, but I know that it's not a simple slip-up with most. (I will stand by that last one as a proper if somewhat long sentence. :)

Ruth said...

Our hospital has computer charting and I am astounded at the spelling errors made by educated people. They are more than mere typos. If I had time there I would start a list.

possumlady said...

My favorite was when a good friend, and a medical doctor by trade, was starting up a companion assisted care business over 10 years ago. He sent me a copy of his first brochure before it was sent off to the printers. He used the word weather instead of whether!! To make matters worse, the brochure was supposedly proofed by a number of people in his office. Yikes!

Faithe said...

I am astounded at the spelling and grammatical errors on blogs, and wish MANY times that I could edit them. I'm not an English teacher, but I can only imagine the frustration one has in trying to impart such knowledge. Best of luck to you!

Dog_geek said...

Ha! I have a great mental image of someone with a spray bottle misting a train.

We were just talking recently about how students' writing in our department (molecular biology) took a dramatic turn for the worse as text messaging started becoming popular. Have you noticed any of that?

KGMom said...

All your additional examples are interesting!

Dog Geek--yes, I believe that text messaging has corrupted our ability to spell. Of course, English doesn't help having so many sound alike words.

JeanMac said...

Good post.

egretsnest said...

Do you know how much time we spend teaching kids the difference between there, their, and they're? Bazillions of hours per child just in Elementary school alone. Sigh.

RuthieJ said...

Sigh......By the time they get to college level, Donna, is there any hope of correcting this? Good luck to you. Thanks for being a good teacher!

NCmountainwoman said...

I think part of the problem is that we are dealing with a new generation of students whose grammar and spelling errors were never addressed because it might "stifle" their creativity.

Humorous on the one hand, sad on the other.

Africakid said...

At first, reading these, I thought you must be teaching English as a Second Language, but now I fear that's not the case...

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The one sample of word confusion on TV which I find confusing and annoying in substantial/substantive. I feel substsntive is ofen used as an affectation, when subtantial would sound better. Here is a discussion on this that still leaves me confused http://www.painintheenglish.com/post.php?id=1080

Mauigirl said...

Very good....I particularly like the idea of ferrous cats. If you put a magnet near them, do they stick to it?

Mary said...

Oh, I can't comment. I'm laughing too hard... Priceless.

Go git'em, Donna :o)