Also, crazy people can’t do it without going crazy midway through.
May 9, 2011 12:22 AM   Subscribe

Shit My Students Write (single serving tumblr blog)

From the About: Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts.
posted by Minus215Cee (163 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the English Lit lecturers at Auckland Uni circulated this last week. As a tutor, I found a perverse pleasure out of most of them.
posted by New England Cultist at 12:24 AM on May 9, 2011


Generational suffixes

Sammy Davis Jr. was the son of Sammy Davis Sr.


So who the heck was Sammy Davis Sr. the son of?
posted by metagnathous at 12:28 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


NotSammy Davis. Duh.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:29 AM on May 9, 2011


Sammy Davis Sr. Sr.
posted by Pendragon at 12:36 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


We were as close as two pees in a pot.

I see nothing wrong with this sentence.
posted by mannequito at 12:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


Some of these seem okay, like:

Although I am my own person, my relationship with my girlfriend of two and a half years has lead to a significant change in almost every aspect of my life such as my behaviors, believes, values, personality, and even my appearance.

and I do not intend to mediate the artistic process with my mind.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:37 AM on May 9, 2011


"From the About: Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts."

Yeah, or maybe social promotion and the attendant declining standards and performance. But whatever, just a dumb blog, flagged, moving on.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:37 AM on May 9, 2011


Like a woman seduces a horny man, Hitler captivated the people of Germany.

Genius
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:38 AM on May 9, 2011 [31 favorites]


Metafilter: Sometimes, people are born with ambitious genitalia.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:43 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg.

I laugh. I stop. I think. I laugh again.
posted by Splunge at 12:43 AM on May 9, 2011 [44 favorites]


At least they're not plagiarizing.
posted by red clover at 12:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sweet! Now that I go to a dentist who doesn't subscribe to Readers' Digest, I was afraid I wasn't going to have the chance to read this kind of humor any more, but I guess I was wrong! Thanks Minus215Cee!
posted by dersins at 12:50 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


oohh kay then, will FAX those VIN numbers to ya right away.
posted by clavdivs at 1:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The amount of radiation that was release after the Chernobyl incident caused a variety of mutations in a variety of orgasms.
posted by New England Cultist at 1:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Macbeth couldn’t have loved Lady Macbeth because he was crazy and too busy hallucinating witches and stuff. Also, crazy people can’t do it without going crazy midway through.

Why is this included? It's been amply proven and peer-reviewed.
posted by mreleganza at 1:49 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


New England Cultist: "The amount of radiation that was release after the Chernobyl incident caused a variety of mutations in a variety of orgasms."

I always enjoy the afterglow.
posted by Splunge at 2:01 AM on May 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts.

I remember my school magazine publishing a load of these in the dim and distant past, and I didn't exactly go to a school for thickos, so I wouldn't take them as direct evidence of the end of civilisation as we know it... I still remember and smile at 'drawing a straight lion'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:23 AM on May 9, 2011


My favorite:
The potato literally encouraged the Irish to overbreed.
posted by therubettes at 2:26 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


I look forward to reading Shit I Write About My Teachers During Their Performance Reviews, by Your Head of School.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:40 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Stupid sexy potatoes.
posted by minifigs at 2:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


I would assume these were bullshit if it weren't for the papers and emails my wife receives from her undergrads. It's not funny after a while. It's terrifying.
posted by e.e. coli at 3:05 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


turns out that Reader's Digest Humor and 4chan Humor are suspiciously similar
posted by LogicalDash at 3:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: It's not funny after a while. It's terrifying.
posted by Splunge at 3:19 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Some of these are too perfect:

Was it the Revolutionary War or the Civil War that the Japanese dropped the atomic bomb on Pearl Harbor?


That's either some grade-A trolling on the part of the student, or else this blog is really Shit I Made Up To Make It Seem Like The Current Generation Of Students Are Stupid And Well Personally I Blame The Parents And What Are You Gonna Do?
posted by kcds at 3:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


The potato literally encouraged the Irish to overbreed.

I have this really frightening mental image of a leering potato rubbing its hands, winking, and chuckling. But thank god potatoes don't form armies like onions!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


I like it when my teacher wife brings home students' creative writing for me to read. To read, and shake my head, and laugh.
posted by robotot at 4:03 AM on May 9, 2011


...this blog is really Shit I Made Up To Make It Seem Like The Current Generation Of Students Are Stupid And Well Personally I Blame The Parents And What Are You Gonna Do?

I think it is about 30% this, about 40% "writers should always review spellcheck's fixes before submitting their essays", and about 40% "up until their mid-20s very few people give a shit about anything relevant to their future, and think Ds on essays are easily made up by doing well on the multiple-choice tests."

Math? But I worked hard at writing!
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:26 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


The stocks and bonds went bad and shit fell in stocks and bonds starting the depression. All these Act and laws really didn’t help. People lost jobs and money. They tried getting shit back on track.

In an 80s movie, this apparent no-future stoner would turn out to be a diamond-in-the-rough business genius who gets recruited and takes his company to the top of Wall Street, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and reclining with his feet up and crossed on top of the desk, before realizing that what really matters... is love. (Cue: Huey Lewis and the News, "Do you believe in love?")
posted by No-sword at 4:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


I have so, so many great lines from my students to post.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:36 AM on May 9, 2011


I wonder how many of these lines are from students who are using English as a second language? A good number of the errors seem like phonetic attempts to get a word they've only heard said aloud.
posted by xingcat at 4:38 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


My high school English teacher had some quotes like these on her wall. My favorite was "He died from an overdose of heroine."
posted by shothotbot at 4:39 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


about 40% "writers should always review spellcheck's fixes before submitting their essays"

I have to frequently remind students that the spell-checker is not really their friend. For starters, it doesn't tell them that there should be no onions in papers about Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott."
posted by thomas j wise at 4:39 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of mine:

"A Windows was the thing to replace for DOS, which was old."
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am sure that some of these are fake, but you'd be surprised at what even bright college undergrads will write in their papers.

I wonder how many of these lines are from students who are using English as a second language? A good number of the errors seem like phonetic attempts to get a word they've only heard said aloud.

This happens all the time even with native speakers. I've had students write about someone's "udder simplicity," preface a clarification with "Another words," talk about a Jew-hater's "anti-semantic language," condemn someone's "hyenas crime" -- and those are just a few of the many, many, MANY malaprops that find their way into even otherwise good papers. Lots of students have heard phrases over and over again, but either didn't stop to think about them or have never seen then written, so they come up with something vaguely similar in sound but not at all alike in meaning.

Although "udder simplicity" could have been a reference to a character's naivete regarding cows
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Saxon Kane is, for all intensive purposes, correct.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:49 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


talk about a Jew-hater's "anti-semantic language,"

*sigh* I discovered "anti-semanticism" a few years ago. Good times.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:50 AM on May 9, 2011


"anti-semantic language" is perfect.
posted by marienbad at 4:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"...A couple months later I noticed things growing on my vagina and I was scared. I asked my friend what to do and she advised me to go to the local Planned Parenthood clinic. I felt this was my only option as I couldn’t have something like this show up on my parents’ insurance."

And they want to cut this service?
posted by marienbad at 4:55 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Posting a student's medical information online is probably the best idea this teacher ever had.
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on May 9, 2011


This peaked my interest. One problem with eduction these days is that kids want to get through the day toot sweet, and get home to play with their video games loaded up with all the belgian whistles. Now, that's always been what kids do, but these days, they don't understand that you loose a lot in life by not writing well, and for all intensive purposes, their teachers don't have enough time to help them understand that. So they play it by year and wind up being incomprehensive to people who did learn the words right. It's perfectly understanding when it's not a native English speaker writing, or perhaps when they're dyspepsic, but when they are born and bread English speakers who don't have a reading disorder, it literally makes my head explode into a million pieces to think about how they wound up being 25 years old and unable to use "your" and "you're" right.
posted by cmonkey at 5:24 AM on May 9, 2011 [54 favorites]


I concur (or, if you wish, conquer) with Saxon Kane that the tendency to guess at an unfamiliar word is not just an ESL thing. I worked in a steel mill during summers in university and read with delight a regular newsletter posted by my boss, who expressed himself reasonably well (with the aid of spellcheck) despite his formal
education having stopped at about age 14. My favourite line: his cautioning us that "the coming economic tough times will surely test our metal."

In many situations, merely a blunder. In a steel mill, sheer genius.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


These all sound vaguely familiar, so I'm a mite suspicious.

(On the other hand, kids make some odd mistakes. My wife is a teacher and one of her kids wrote "I am proud to be the first woman in my family." Huh?)
posted by jonmc at 5:30 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


"That's either some grade-A trolling on the part of the student, or else this blog is really Shit I Made Up To Make It Seem Like The Current Generation Of Students Are Stupid And Well Personally I Blame The Parents And What Are You Gonna Do?"

Dream on, dude. Just yesterday (yes, I teach Sunday), one of my students informed me that nobody had sex out of wedlock prior to 1960. I have a shocking number of students -- seriously half -- who never had evolution explained to them in their K-12 schooling. Not that they don't "believe in it." (I remind them that, like gravity, it's not a belief-option situation.) That nobody ever taught it to them. They do not know what it is. So there we are in philosophy class trying to do a brief intro on evolution so we can get through the teleological argument and have its place in intellectual history make marginal sense.

A certain number of these are decent students who were working quickly and typoed or didn't catch something; yesterday I had an otherwise-good student paper about universal suffrage veer suddenly off for a single sentence into capitalism then come right back. I assume she had a thought about how capitalism related, wrote half of it, deleted most of it, but missed one sentence. It made NO sense, and was funny in context if you read it as if she meant it. But I also had a native English speaker whose family's been in this country forever who donated her kidney to a relative and spelled kidney as "kenny" when hand-writing (not disastrous spell-checking "accept all"-ing). I could barely work out what any of her sentences meant -- "dibeets" was "diabetes," which was actually the word that finally clued me in to what the piece was about. She was functionally illiterate and had not only been promoted all the way through K-12, but allowed to pass her first-year classes at community college. I turned in a form, I forget what we call it, saying I had concerns about her ability to cope with classwork and here was an overlooked student lacking crucial skills, and I got big pushback from her department because they wanted her to finish the two-year and graduate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:41 AM on May 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


Shit My Spell Check Confused
posted by nathancaswell at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2011


Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts.

Also evidence that some teachers are passive-aggressive bullies who have no respect for their students and even feel compelled to mock them in public. But yeah, young people are all idiots.
posted by Modlizki at 5:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


If a human family is larger they will need a lager house.

mmmmm lager house, may your glass never be empty!
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:53 AM on May 9, 2011


LOL students. Meh.
posted by Mngo at 5:55 AM on May 9, 2011


me:
That's either some grade-A trolling on the part of the student, or else this blog is really Shit I Made Up To Make It Seem Like The Current Generation Of Students Are Stupid And Well Personally I Blame The Parents And What Are You Gonna Do?

Eyebrows McGee:
Dream on, dude. Just yesterday (yes, I teach Sunday), one of my students informed me that nobody had sex out of wedlock prior to 1960.

Sigh. You would have to go and ruin my bubble of denial with some of your "facts" now, wouldn't you ...
posted by kcds at 6:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to Shit My Patients Write in Their Own Blood on the Walls of the Psychiatric Ward.
posted by Modlizki at 6:17 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


(On the other hand, kids make some odd mistakes. My wife is a teacher and one of her kids wrote "I am proud to be the first woman in my family." Huh?)

Depends purely on how you define family: my mother had only a sister; her mother in turn had only sisters, as did their mother (and on my mother's side of the family, all my cousins were girls). From the point of view of all these womenfolk, I was the first boy in the family in four generations. And as the patriarch of the family, my Victorian-era great-great-grandfather Jeremiah Bell had spawned all these girls, there was tremendous pressure on my parents to name me 'Jeremiah'.

I avoided this only because my parents did not like the inevitable "Jerry," but to this day I have elderly relatives who address me as 'Miah', never having quite accepted my parents' decision.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:23 AM on May 9, 2011


The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg.

A few words in I am thinking, "OK, just a little sloppy with the autocorrect, software strikes again; and then they get to the National Park......"
posted by caddis at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2011


damn, software lack of attention to detail strikes again and the blockquote tag fails to get closed.
posted by caddis at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2011


Lo, and the great and terrible FERPA beast came down from its lair in the cold mountains of administrivia and laid waste to this tumblr, restoring balance and peace to the universe.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of my coworkers consistently uses the word, "unbehalf", where they should be using "on behalf". It's maddening, because it really looks like a genuine word.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really see any personally identifiable records which would invoke FERPA. What am I missing?
posted by caddis at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2011


People already mentioned two civil war quotes (fighting in national parks and the japanese dropping the A bomb on perl harbor) but I found this on the 4th page or so:
Even though there is no man in the ad, the gaze is male. The fictional man gets a sense of boyistic pleasure from looking at the woman.
I'm surprised by all the "Nah, Trollin'" posts. Maybe you guys went to some elite private school where every student writes perfectly but high-school students aren't always the best writers.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"That's either some grade-A trolling on the part of the student, or else this blog is really Shit I Made Up To Make It Seem Like The Current Generation Of Students Are Stupid And Well Personally I Blame The Parents And What Are You Gonna Do?"

No, it's not.

An English Professor I know shared a story once; he teaches at Princeton, and in a class he has on early American literature they were discussing Thomas Paine's "Common Sense." At some point during his lecture, one of his students raised her hand and asked, "Sir, was there a war going on when he wrote this?"

"Yes, the Revolutionary War," he said.

"....What's that?"

He mentioned a couple more references, and in doing so found out that this student was completely unaware that:

* There had been a Revolutionary War
* There were thirteen states that had originally been English Colonies
* There was a man named George Washington who was our first president
* George Washington was also a general in this war
* George Washington is the person whose portrait is on the quarter

So he had to give a brief five minute American history lecture to a college student in order to proceed with his English class.


...In conclusion, this is why we need to bring Schoolhouse Rock back on the air.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 AM on May 9, 2011 [27 favorites]


Donald Rumsfeld must be running an NGO: Humans who struggle with hunger lose hope, and those with hope don’t have hunger and should give those with hunger, reason to hope.
posted by palindromic at 7:13 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unforunately my students who write (a+b)2 = a2 + b2 aren't nearly as funny.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2011 [21 favorites]


The spirit of FERPA then held court in the hallway, as conference rooms imply respect, and reminded the cowed FERPAtrators that nearly all institutions whom FERPA watches over and guides have strict requirements that all releases of educational records outside the institution first be approved by a qualified FERPAdministrator to better protect the privacy of the FERPAlings. Indeed any release of educational records outside of the institution, with specific exceptions, must have a valid educational, pedagogical, or research related purpose and be approved in writing by the student or their legal guardian even in the absence of personally identifying information.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:22 AM on May 9, 2011


Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts.

More like, evidence that teachers who submit "hilarious" crap their students write need to spend more time teaching their students to write properly and less time submitting stuff to this desperate-for-a-book-deal site.
posted by dersins at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2011


More like, evidence that teachers who submit "hilarious" crap their students write need to spend more time teaching their students to write properly and less time submitting stuff to this desperate-for-a-book-deal site.
Because the school system is paying for 24 hours a day of their time, right?
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


More like, evidence that teachers who submit "hilarious" crap their students write need to spend more time teaching their students to write properly and less time submitting stuff to this desperate-for-a-book-deal site.

Maybe they submit these things to the web site, to help vent their frustration, and then go teach their students to write properly.

And besides, you can't make students learn. As long as some people are in classes who don't want to be there, they'll just stare out the window the whole time, or not show up, and what you say in class won't stick.

And yes, I am giving a final exam tonight. Why do you ask?
posted by madcaptenor at 7:31 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


In high school I would occasionally end up working on a paper or assignment until the wee hours of the morning. Pre-university, my body wasn't used to such assaults, and more than once I drifted off into dreamland while my fingers were still typing away at the keyboard, managing to stay aligned and type out orthographically and syntactically correct sentences. Sentences, however, that made NO sense and gave a glimpse into the weirdness that goes on in my mind when I'm daydreaming. When I came to again, I would see what I had done and delete it in horror (I WISH I had thought to save these). Sometimes, though, in my 3 am stupor I would fail to properly proofread, and a wayward word or sentence would make it into the work I submitted.
posted by mantecol at 7:32 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


mantecol: that happened to me a few times in high school, too. I don't know what this says about me, but I seem to recall those wayward sentences often involved monkeys.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obviously publishing these on the internet serves no purpose whatever. Everyone on the internet is already perfect at spelling and grammar! These couldn't possibly serve as warnings and reminders of how stupid we might sound if we get too absent-minded with our online blah-blah.

Completely useless, beyond the chance to make fun of how stupid some students can be. There's some value in that.
posted by Goofyy at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2011


A good number of the errors seem like phonetic attempts to get a word they've only heard said aloud.

I'm sure we all do this from time to time, but what was really a problem for me when I was young was wildly mispronouncing words that I'd only ever read. Thanks for nothing, English.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:45 AM on May 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wow, I can't believe the response on here. It's like a bad parody of a schoolmarm. FERPA violations? Get a grip.
posted by nasreddin at 7:48 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Although I am my own person, my relationship with my girlfriend of two and a half years has lead to a significant change in almost every aspect of my life such as my behaviors, believes, values, personality, and even my appearance.

I don't know about your believes, Lovecraft in Broolyn, but my believes are that there's a problem in that sentence.

On the other hand, cmonkey just taught me for the first time that "toot sweet" is not, as I had supposed, silly slang from the era when a mook would address a dame as "toots."
posted by straight at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2011


Along these lines, once upon a time (last semester) I was pulling an all-nighter to finish my research methods study proposal on the connection between UN GEM indices and international transsexual rates. As you can imagine, this was kind of a tedious and technical paper to write, so I was keeping myself awake by flipping over to the back archives of Hyperbole and a Half every once in a while. I found something funny, put it on my Significant Other(tm)'s Facebook page, and then an hour later tried to copy/paste something else.

This directly led to the red-pen inked comment from my professor, "Great paper, but confused about your hypothesis statement? V. true, but I think you meant something else?"

Upon closer examination, I realized that I had re-copied what I meant to send to my boyfriend, and my hypotheses looked like this:

H0: There will not be a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of transsexualism in countries with a higher score on the United Nations' Gender Empowerment Measure.

H1: If you're in a relationship, sometimes you probably feel like you're fighting a caged death-match with an invisible spider monkey.


He let me resubmit it, and I got a good grade the second time around.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [43 favorites]


This thread is funnier than the post's materiel.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So who the heck was Sammy Davis Sr. the son of?

God.
posted by fore at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the sublime like when you’re driving in a slum or ghetto and you realize how much you have compared to what other people don’t have?
There's a comp lit thesis in here somewhere.
posted by nasreddin at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read essays for part of my living: 10th grade grad-standard tests, SAT essays... Just this year alone I've read thousands of essays.

Those of you who think these quotes are made up are, sadly, unaware of what's going on in the minds of today's high school students. It's what you get when you have 30-40 students in a classroom who really truly are just killing time til graduation. And then colleges get them. And the professors go slowly mad.
posted by RedEmma at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


RedEmma, are we battling so hard against phonetics that we've given up the split infinitive battle? Even though we use fragments for emphasis?
posted by Sweetdefenestration at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]



RedEmma, are we battling so hard against phonetics that we've given up the split infinitive battle? Even though we use fragments for emphasis?

There is no "split infinitive battle." The rule against split infinitives, like a lot of grammatical "rules," is totally arbitrary and has no relationship to how people actually use the language.
posted by nasreddin at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


The split infinitive battle died when the first Star Trek series began to air. Or when we stopped speaking Latin.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


madcaptenor Unforunately my students who write (a+b)2 = a2 + b2 aren't nearly as funny.

The math version is the gratuitous abuse of the equal sign. You know, the good old "7*3=21+6=27/2=13.5" mistake.

That one cracks me up every time... and then I pour myself some whiskey and cry for a bit.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing that bothers me a bout this site is that the titles are so much bigger and bolder than the actual content of the posts. I get the snark, *then* the thing they're snarking about.

Here's a quick-fix bookmarklet that reduces the size and boldness of the titles, to emphasize the content better:

javascript:(function(){$('li.posts h1').css('font-size', '90%').find('a').css('color', '#ccc')})();

I'd like to also move the title to *after* the content, but I should probably be working, since I'm at work.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:22 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, if I read this blog regularly, I'd move that into a greasemonkey script.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2011


Lots of students have heard phrases over and over again, but either didn't stop to think about them or have never seen then written, so they come up with something vaguely similar in sound but not at all alike in meaning.

True. I certainly consider myself more literate than the average bear, but I still remember someone having to work very hard to convince me that the phrase was "deep-seated," not "deep-seeded." (I still think the latter makes more sense--the seed was planted deeply, so the beliefs, or what-have-you, have strong roots and are difficult to dig out.)

I've heard these things called "eggcorns," rather than malapropisms (based on one of the most common incidences).
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sammy Davis, Jr. was the son of Sammy Davis.

The one that really drives me up a wall/saddens me is the death of the addressive comma. I see this one at ALL levels (incl. here on MeFi). Especially at the end of the sentence: "I wish you would use commas correctly folks." Or @ notation (which is creeping into facebook), where folks will say things like: "@Deb I noticed that!" It really breaks the flow for me when I'm reading, especially when there's no proper noun (or capitalization) to provide clues.
posted by Eideteker at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dead Metaphors are fascinating. Cut off from their roots, they have a natural tendency to mutate in unusual ways. Just part of the evolution of language. News at 11.
posted by ovvl at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, this isn't really a single serving site. There are many servings. Maybe you meant single topic?
posted by Eideteker at 8:34 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The math version is the gratuitous abuse of the equal sign. You know, the good old "7*3=21+6=27/2=13.5" mistake.

That's a program, not an equation. You could call it "procedural math".
posted by DU at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eideteker: "Also, this isn't really a single serving site. There are many servings. Maybe you meant single topic?"


Yes. I did mean single topic, but I posted this between watching Ti Lung in The Kung Fu Instructor and sleeping. My apologies.
posted by Minus215Cee at 8:46 AM on May 9, 2011


On the plus side, these are students making these errors, which suggests that there may be some hope they'll learn the grammar, correct usage and spelling, facts, etc., that they've apparently missed so far. I'm a lot more perturbed by the writing I see from co-workers who have completed their formal educations.

Last week, a co-worker sent a company-wide email that ended, "Otherwise, we only have perception and heresy to go on." I responded that I was unaware that we were so orthodox.

Another co-worker, a contractor who also teaches for a well-known online university, has very poor grasp or grammar, punctuation, spelling, or even capitalization. English is his first language and he has at least a bachelor's degree, yet he consistently writes sentences like, "Big Porblem - call IT," "Tech can NOT Replicate porblem - fixed (re) assign Can NOT Assign," "I fix All action items assign to Me, not in M's last List," "I perform all the activities through End Of Day and everything Worked," "Add the capability in the, Data Entry form, to review & close out a Order if you are data entry." Since we're collaborating on a project, I have to re-write virtually everything he does that will face users.
posted by notashroom at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2011


RedEmma- And then colleges get them. And the professors go slowly mad.

What do you mean "slowly"? (Although, to be fair, a lot of the profs in my department seem like they were a bit crazy before they started teaching.)

Just to lend support to what you were saying, I taught for 5 years at a dream college and the things I read just shattered my brain. Students referring to men and women as different races or species, students inventing words like "feministical" and "fallacated", students who used text speak for 4-5 page long papers, and this doesn't even begin to cover the worst of the worst. Two years ago a student came up to me with a piece of paper in which she had written "Students'"and "Student's." She wanted to know the difference between the two. When I explained one was plural possessive but the other was singular possessive, she objected that, "Both are plural because they both end in 's'" She was a native born English speaker. Over the last 5 years, I've noticed increasingly students even in my upper level courses have trouble using apostrophes properly.

I'm actually writing this before I go to my last class before summer break. Weeeeeeee.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


students inventing words like "feministical" and "fallacated"

Those aren't technically invented words, though. They're common teen slang for awesome sex acts that we haven't heard of yet because we're too old and unhip.
posted by dersins at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


the things I read just shattered my brain

For some class in college the students had to grade each other's papers once. I don't remember the class or the paper topic or anything except the absolute horror of a paper I got handed. I started off correcting errors but eventually gave up and just wrote on the front "start over from scratch". I always felt bad about that, but it was red pen so I couldn't take it back. Reading this thread, I don't know if I feel better or worse.
posted by DU at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2011


I've been spending a lot of time on Craigslist because I am redecorating and replacing all of my crappy furniture with well-made pieces. I started keeping a list of misspellings just because they can be so funny. Easily the most often misspelled word is dining, so if you are looking for a new table be sure to add dinning to your search. The word most often misspelled in a variety of ways is armoire; I've seen it spelled amoir, armwore, amoire, amor, amour, and armore. Cussions took me a while to figure out, somehow I thought it had something to do with caissons or cassocks. Condenza was used often enough I began to imagine there was some piece of furniture that was new to me. This being the South, we have people selling furniture with mirrows, droors, and made of rot iron. I don't need a nic-nac shelf, nor do I need a cabenit but I'm intrigued with all the slay-beds out there (they sound a bit spooky.) Finally, this being the Bible belt, I wonder if the posters think there is some significance to furniture with cain seats.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm surprised by the ire some people are feeling towards the teachers who submitted these lines. Part of the delight of teaching is being able to chuckle at the absurdities; it doesn't mean they don't respect the kids.

My personal favorite: one of my students once wrote an entire practice ACT essay in support of standardized testes.
posted by HeroZero at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I loved the one about "aiding in the bedding of a criminal," because it got me thinking about contexts where that phrase would be not only correct, but pretty darn clever.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I was a writing tutor as a junior and senior years of my undergraduate degree, I saw some doozies. I had one freshman student (who was forced to come by her instructor) whose paper was full of problems regarding quotations and attributions. I decided to see what she knew about quotation marks. I wrote the following sentences and asked her to tell me the difference between them:

John said, "I was hungry."
John said I was hungry.


She informed me that they meant the same thing. My attempts to help proofread her paper met with resistance because "this [was not] a formal paper" (?!), so I just let her go...

I also once looked at a paper by a fellow history major (I was a senior, he a junior) for an upper-level class. This was supposed to be a research paper of 10-15 pages. He met the page limit, but EVERY SINGLE FOOTNOTE (about 30 or so) was drawn from one book. I had to explain to him what a research paper was, and that this didn't qualify. The paper was due the next day. Needless to say, when he asked me what the highest grade I thought could get was, I was not very optimistic.
posted by dhens at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised by the ire some people are feeling towards the teachers who submitted these lines. Part of the delight of teaching is being able to chuckle at the absurdities; it doesn't mean they don't respect the kids.


But teachers are supposed to be prefect! And love all their students equally!
posted by madcaptenor at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2011


Of course I had to make a mistake in my post:
When I was a writing tutor in my junior and senior years...
posted by dhens at 10:00 AM on May 9, 2011


Of course I had to make a mistake in my post:

But teachers are supposed to be prefect! And love all there students equally!
posted by madcaptenor at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


He met the page limit, but EVERY SINGLE FOOTNOTE (about 30 or so) was drawn from one book.

ROFL. So the first footnote had a full citation, and all the rest were like "Ibid., p. 35-36."? That's amazing.

(When I was 11, I ran across Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision in the public library and checked it out. I actually plowed through most of it. Apparently it was the first book I had read that had a lot of footnotes. For a while, I thought Ibid must be a really amazing book. It took me a while to figure it out.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


This was supposed to be a research paper of 10-15 pages. He met the page limit, but EVERY SINGLE FOOTNOTE (about 30 or so) was drawn from one book.

I had a student submit a paper about this length exploring cultural differences in how child abuse is defined. Unfortunately, her entire paper was based on the teachings of Dr. Phil. (I actually forgot about until this moment. Thanks for the memories.)
posted by miss-lapin at 10:15 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought we had a moratorium on Sarah Palin posts...
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2011


But teachers are supposed to be prefect!

No, prefects are never teachers, they're students.
posted by Herodios at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton:
If only! No, as I recall, each note was a full-form citation.

Also, I love the anecdote about Velikovsky. I am reminded of Hofstader from "The Paranoid Style in American Politics":

The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent—in fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world. It is nothing if not scholarly in technique. McCarthy’s 96-page pamphlet, McCarthyism, contains no less than 313 footnote references, and Mr. Welch’s incredible assault on Eisenhower, The Politician, has one hundred pages of bibliography and notes. The entire right-wing movement of our time is a parade of experts, study groups, monographs, footnotes, and bibliographies.


But now I am too far astray from the topic of the thread...
posted by dhens at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Shit My Students Write or: How I Learned to Stop Caring and Sabotage My Teaching Career"
posted by secondhand pho at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2011


"Big Porblem - call IT," "Tech can NOT Replicate porblem - fixed (re) assign Can NOT Assign," "I fix All action items assign to Me, not in M's last List," "I perform all the activities through End Of Day and everything Worked," "Add the capability in the, Data Entry form, to review & close out a Order if you are data entry."

i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words. These People are for the most Part Speakers of English, not German. They are also not referring to God.

(seriously, if it's not a proper name, and if it's not the first word of the sentence, it doesn't take a capital letter. What I really don't understand is where people get any other idea; where are they seeing writing with random capitalization?)
posted by madcaptenor at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Minus215Cee! After 20 years of skimming through many of the same kind of student riffs, I am just laughing (loudly) right now.

I will be back later to read all the serious and 'matters of consequence' comments above

(maybe, lol).
posted by Surfurrus at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I TAed a first year class in environmental studies last semester and was astounded at the inability of students to communicate coherently in English. On the first assignment, which was a short research paper, almost half of the 200+ students in the class had NO in-text citations at all, even for direct quotes!

For the term paper, I kept a list of ridiculous things that students wrote. An alarming number of students were not aware that Africa is a continent, not a country. One of my favourite mistakes was the very first sentence of a student's paper, which read: "Just under a decade ago, in 1992...". I also had a student mention the former President of Canada.
posted by just_ducky at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2011


where are they seeing writing with random capitalization?

In practically every piece of print advertising or marketing copy of any kind written since P.T. Barnum first invited us to view the Amazing Astounding Egress! Step Right This Way!!
posted by Herodios at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2011


One of my pet peeves is when people write "per say" when they mean "per se".
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once rushed a high school paper about Sigmund Freud, and I couldn't think of a thesis. I asked my mom, who has a masters in psychology, for her opinion on Freud. She gave me some great insights into why she thought Freud was obsolete because of the work done by those who came after, including her own favorite pioneers in the field, and so on.

I listened and took notes, and cribbed them for my paper, filling it with my thoughtful-and-not-at-all-half-assed references to the great psychologist "Carl Young."
posted by Toothless Willy at 11:08 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


You were just doing that thing that the British used to do where they translated names into English, so you occasionally see references to people like "John Bach" or "Joesph Verdi". (Although they usually didn't translate last names, like you did, to get "John Brook" or "Joseph Green".)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:12 AM on May 9, 2011


Was Carl Jung? Was Otto Rank? Was Karen Horney?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:16 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A person I know consistently closes their emails with 'chow!'. At first I thought they were trying to be funny. Sadly, they mean 'ciao!'.

I've never corrected them on this, though I've wondered if I should (I think I've gone so far as to include 'ciao!' in some of my replies).

Anyhoop, at least with school-based errors, there is a direct mechanism for feedback and correction.
posted by mazola at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words. These People are for the most Part Speakers of English, not German. They are also not referring to God.

madcaptenor, I had a friend who did this, but as she consistently capitalized nouns, we joked about her being German in a previous life. This guy has no particular pattern that I can discern, which makes it that much more annoying to me.

Herodios probably has a very good point about the influence of advertising overriding that of teachers and textbooks as far as capitalization, Especially of Words We Want to Emphasize!, which might also to some extent explain this guy's regular substitution of the dash in place of the period.
posted by notashroom at 11:51 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have actually played a happy meal toy and an alarm clock as instruments in two separate concerts.

Now I wonder if that means I am a fool, or that teacher is. I'll hedge my bet and say both.
posted by idiopath at 11:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


She was functionally illiterate and had not only been promoted all the way through K-12, but allowed to pass her first-year classes at community college. Sadly, reminds me of my kid sis, whose learning disability was discovered in 4th grade when her teacher figured out that she couldn't read. HOW THE F*** DO YOU GET TO 4TH GRADE WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO READ? Even at age 30 her spelling is still somewhat...idiosyncratic. Any of the sentences in which words are spelled phonetically, etc, she quite easily could have written them, totally understanding the subject matter but without any grasp of how to write the correct words.
posted by epersonae at 12:02 PM on May 9, 2011


A person I know consistently closes their emails with 'chow!'. At first I thought they were trying to be funny.

This is kind of like using "viola!" (the instrument) instead of "voilà!" (the ejaculation) — which substitution I find is nearly always ambiguous these days. It seems almost always to be true, in both spoken and written use, that it can be either a language mistake or an intentional joke, since it's one of those mistakes that people think is cute enough to repeat on purpose.
posted by RogerB at 12:02 PM on May 9, 2011


> Is the sublime like when you’re driving in a slum or ghetto and you realize how much you have compared to what other people don’t have?

Sublimes are citrus fruit they used to give to sailors on U-Boats.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:06 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


RogerB: "This is kind of like using "viola!" (the instrument) instead of "voilà!" (the ejaculation) — which substitution I find is nearly always ambiguous these days."

If you are their teacher then correct them because your job is not to have a sense of humor, it is to show them how to use the language. If you are their boss, tell them it is unprofessional. If you are not their teacher or boss, just treat it is a joke, whether they meant it to be one or not is of very little importance.
posted by idiopath at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2011


There are the donuts.
It is their donut.
They're the donut people.
posted by byanyothername at 12:10 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


which substitution I find is nearly always ubiquitous these days.

FTFY.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:16 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twice today I've read boot for boat as in "I'm not in the same boot as him" and "They are all in the same boot." I'm in Minneapolis, not Germany so that's not it. We have a few lakes around here also, so "not in the same boat" seems like it would make some logical sense but I guess not. I'm just going to assume they're typos and people don't think that many can fit in one boot.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:17 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I do phonetic spelling errors, not because of spell check but because of a disconnect between the movement of my fingers and the noise of my thoughts in my head. For example I just typed "even after he stopped liking it" instead of "even after he stopped lighting it" because they sound just similar enough and my fingers know the proper spelling on a kind of instinctive level. I make these kinds of mistakes very often.
posted by idiopath at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


> i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words. These People are for the most Part Speakers of English, not German. They are also not referring to God.

(seriously, if it's not a proper name, and if it's not the first word of the sentence, it doesn't take a capital letter. What I really don't understand is where people get any other idea; where are they seeing writing with random capitalization?)


I get the impression that this is more an example of hopelessly incompetent typists.

People who will swing both hands in circles over the keyboard, like casting a spell, and then pause, type one letter, glance up at the screen over their glasses and then down, begin swirling their hands again, etc, repeat.

They get half way through an email, sit back to review their progress and realize they've miscapitalized or mis-punctuated something and - because the thought of trudging back is so agonizing - make the decision to just carry on so that, at least, there is some consistency.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:35 PM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I'm a big believer in random capitalization. The rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle.” - Margo Roth Speigelman, Paper Towns
posted by litnerd at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2011


John said, "I was hungry."
John said I was hungry.


"I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse."
"I helped my uncle jack off a horse."

Yep, commas are important.

i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words. These People are for the most Part Speakers of English, not German. They are also not referring to God.

I see this all the time at work, when people want to emphasize that Something Is Important. Where I work, we have a problem with people not reading the material we put out (directions, instructions, etc. which, if they're dealing with us, they are probably required by law to be familiar with). This leads to our staff putting Important Things in Italics with capital letters. Of course, since nearly everything is important, the more important things then have to be in Bold Italics With Capitals, so then the really important things have to be in BOLD ITALICS in all caps, then the stuff we really, seriously, need you to read are also in red.

Sometimes they also increase the font size. As you might expect, this means much of our official documentation in the past has had this weird mottled visual look to it, and naturally, no one ends up reading it.
posted by mrgoat at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


> I've wondered if I should (I think I've gone so far as to include 'ciao!' in some of my replies).

If you did, you might get "Wa Lah!" in response.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:41 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words."

I blame A.A. Milne.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had a student submit a paper about this length exploring cultural differences in how child abuse is defined. Unfortunately, her entire paper was based on the teachings of Dr. Phil.

I had a student turn in an undergraduate paper citing Ben's Guide to US Government For Kids. Seriously, the "For Kids" is part of the title.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:53 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


your job is not to have a sense of humor

Some things we do for free.

If you are not their teacher or boss, just treat it is a joke, whether they meant it to be one or not is of very little importance.

Seven Types of Not Giving a Shit About Ambiguity

1. If you're a teacher, correct it.
2. If you're a boss, discipline it.
3. If you're neither, ignore it.
4. [intentionally left blank]
5. [unintentionally left blank]
6. [intentionality of blankness impossible to determine]
7. Profit!
posted by RogerB at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]



Spelling errors, either organic or spell-checker-induced, can be amusing but are trivial to correct.

Not so errors caused by cultural illiteracy, which is what much of these anecdata represent.

This isn't simply a kind of philistinism. Forget Shakespeare, Bach, and Monet. Not knowing things like when the Revolutionary War was fought or by whom or why (for Americans: parallels exist for every culture, of course) is functional cultural illiteracy.

A writer who knows and cares what they are talking about cannot write things like 'wa la' or 'to all intensive purposes' or 'community axis televison'. That level of ignorance takes years of disengagement and neglect.
posted by Herodios at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


mrgoat:

Yes, commas are important, but my point was that quotation marks are important!
posted by dhens at 1:09 PM on May 9, 2011


I know, but I didn't have a funny quote for quotation marks. (Aside - "John said, I was hungry" while still ambiguous, is halfway to readable if you think about how it would sound out loud. And it seems a lot of these mistakes are being done by students who rarely write, and are attempting to transcribe speech.)

Mostly, what I'm trying to say is, the uncle horse-jacking joke makes me laugh.
posted by mrgoat at 1:17 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The toot upthread was sweet. Kids these days have a sweet tooth all day long, right?
Metafilter: pardon my French.
Especially useful in a thread about students who write stuff like "per say" and "viola!"
posted by Namlit at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2011


My high school English teacher had some quotes like these on her wall. My favorite was "He died from an overdose of heroine."

Full points if they were studying Romeo and Juliet.
posted by mazola at 2:06 PM on May 9, 2011


So he had to give a brief five minute American history lecture to a college student in order to proceed with his English class.

At Princeton, you say? Let me guess - foreign-born math prodigy.

In K-12, where ESOL is part of my bailiwick, students need some of their greatest support in social studies classes (they need the least and second least in math and science (especially speakers of latin/greek descended languages) because of the commonality of vocabulary and numbers) because not only is the vocabulary largely new to them, they are starting at square one in the cultural history of the US, compared to everybody else in their class who got started singing "in 14 hundred and ninety two, columbus sailed the ocean blue" at the age of 5.

So, yeah, probably should have known a biggie like Revolutionary War and first president, but considering the amount of US history they had to cram just to get into Princeton (along with that math or physics or bio-whatever scholarship), probably forgot most of it immediately, there not being many reinforcement opportunities by that age.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:55 PM on May 9, 2011


A teacher I know had a high school level student ask her how to spell toque. She agreed that it was a pretty tricky word and showed him how to spell it.

When she got his paper it was full of sentences like, "So he toque the bus downtown."

A student of my high school English teacher spray painted "You Loose!" on a bounder outside his house.
posted by ODiV at 3:34 PM on May 9, 2011


A student of my high school English teacher spray painted "You Loose!" on a bounder outside his house.

A cad, a rake, and a blackguard, as well, no doubt.
posted by Herodios at 3:44 PM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


your job is not to have a sense of humor

yes it is! making bad jokes keeps my students awake.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:46 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Full points if they were studying Romeo and Juliet.

Oh man, I have to mention this even though I know I've posted it before.

My uncle's an English prof, so I've heard a few stories. Most of them pretty tame, using "faucet" instead of "facet" etc. But the best ever was when a student was writing an exam essay on Romeo and Juliet, but could not remember their names. So he referred to them throughout as Judy and Steve.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:57 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: crazy people can’t do it without going crazy midway through.
posted by nzero at 4:18 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bounder!? Boulder.

Ouch.
posted by ODiV at 5:26 PM on May 9, 2011


A good number of the errors seem like phonetic attempts to get a word they've only heard said aloud.

I grew up in Texas, as a pastor's kid. My 2nd grade teacher (public school) was a bit of a fundamentalist Christian, but I didn't realize it until one day, when we had indoor recess and I made a dumb move in checkers. In my frustration, I yelled "Jesus!" and she promptly scolded me. It confused me for a second, because until that point, I'd thought that when people said that word in frustration, they were just using the plural form of "jeez."

I thought I was going to hell for weeks afterward.
posted by hootenatty at 5:26 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


And what, exactly, is wrong with this one? I had a similar thought earlier today...

An example of a white collar crime is someone who works for Bank of America.
posted by naoko at 5:40 PM on May 9, 2011


I'm back and sort of stunned by some of the anger here.

For those who want to pound on the college students, consider that anyone born 20 years ago who went through public school in America ...

-- routinely gets assaulted with possibly 50X more information on their way to class each day than we who were born 60 years ago would have seen, heard and read in our first week of college. (Progress?)
-- have been subjected to almost 12 years of 'educational reforms' that are seldom calibrated to fit with the previous year's demands (no child left unharmed)
-- have been in oversize classes with underpaid and overworked teachers who are publicly berated for their selfish, easy life and constantly given more challenges (first priority: classroom management)
-- have been handed the very worse scenario for life on this earth in the history of human existence (if the financial crisis, pandemics or terrorists don't get you, the environment will)

It is entirely possible that we have little to teach these kids about writing. Our language ('English') is abysmally confusing -- it is a mongrel mix of many languages with a long list of rules and a longer list of exceptions to those rules. We might all do better to write in acronyms and text-talk. In fact, the future 'global language' may well be a form of hieroglyphics.

The saddest part of the students' mistakes is their lack of foundational knowledge (cultural literacy, as someone said). I don't see this as the fault of 'lazy' or ignorant kids. In my experience, these students know they've been cheated of a real education; they KNOW they don't know enough ... and they are angry.
posted by Surfurrus at 5:54 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


-- have been handed the very worse scenario for life on this earth in the history of human existence (if the financial crisis, pandemics or terrorists don't get you, the environment will)

Bit of hyperbole in this one, at least, don't you think? The financial crisis still allows many people in America to live a standard of living envied by much of the world. Pandemics are scary as hell even today, but surely much worse in the past (if you lived in England back when Henry VIII was king, not ony did you have people dropping dead of sweating sickness within 24 hours after showing the very first symptom, you knew nothing of contagions and how illnesses really spread in the first place). Wars, revolutions, terrorists are not limited to modern day America.

Not saying we need to get into any debate on any of these issues, either--i just think you are taking this thread WAY too seriously. I haven't seen the anger you refer to, just a bit of frustration and some poking fun.

And I do think most of the examples here are actual mistakes, but the one about Pearl Harbor and the A-bomb is *definitely* the kind of thing my South Park-watching teen would consider hilarious to troll someone with.
posted by misha at 8:23 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


-- have been handed the very worse scenario for life on this earth in the history of human existence.

Oh no you didn't!
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:53 PM on May 9, 2011


Respect in the digital age - "Regardless of why people find the need to make fun of students, this disrespect for students and mockery of the learning process only hurts the relationship between instructors and students as well as perpetuates the stereotype of professors as pretentious intellectuals."
posted by unliteral at 9:09 PM on May 9, 2011


I've been spending a lot of time on Craigslist because I am redecorating and replacing all of my crappy furniture with well-made pieces. I started keeping a list of misspellings just because they can be so funny.

When looking for rooms on Craigslist I noticed people use the word 'quite' instead of 'quiet' way too many times.
posted by littlesq at 9:36 PM on May 9, 2011


When the students respect us by not trashing us on ratemyprofessors.com, we'll respect them by not posting their shit on Shit My Students Write.

(And at least we do it in a way that it'll never get back to them.)

(why, yes, I did look at my ratemyprofessors.com ratings today. that was a mistake.)
posted by madcaptenor at 10:48 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our language ('English') is abysmally confusing -- it is a mongrel mix of many languages with a long list of rules and a longer list of exceptions to those rules.

Agreed.

Or try pronouncing "ough":
'a rough-coated, tough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of scarborough; after falling into a slough, ...'
I'm reminded of the fact that there are languages where there's no point in spelling bees.

But the best ever was when a student was writing an exam essay on Romeo and Juliet, but could not remember their names. So he referred to them throughout as Judy and Steve.


Well, of course. There's so many different personal names to keep track of in English that it's unfair to expect the reader or the student to keep track of them all ... especially in a complicated play like Shakespeare's "Steve and Judy".
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:31 AM on May 10, 2011


I concur, English at times can be "unnaturally" confusing. My motherlanguage is Italian (latin based), so as I began studying english I was puzzled by the fact that written vowels wouldn't always sound the same, for instance the sound of "a" in "car" and in "cat". Because of this "feature", after years of practicing english I still have every now and then to consult a dictionary with phonetic notations, and my pronunciation is still far from a perfect "received pronunciation".

And all of this isn't the byproduct of a poor education, or lack of commitment; as apparently people learn primarily by one-to-one association, it just doesn't come natural to associate two different sounds to the same written character.
posted by elpapacito at 3:03 AM on May 10, 2011


i have favourited several comments in this thread.
posted by marienbad at 3:20 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dream on, dude. Just yesterday (yes, I teach Sunday), one of my students informed me that nobody had sex out of wedlock prior to 1960.

I thought this was true until my teens. Also, that 'fuck' and 'shit' were uncouth modern words only in popular currency once the fabric of Britain decayed in about 1969.

This is what comes of having parents who told you constantly about how excellent the 60s were compared with now.
posted by mippy at 3:36 AM on May 10, 2011


So he had to give a brief five minute American history lecture to a college student in order to proceed with his English class

I thought 'foreign student' as well - I'm from the UK and there are things that are common knowledge to those who have been through a US high school that most people won't know here. Doesn't seem to work the other way around, though - Americans seem to love our history.

However, a 21yr old relative of mine hasn't heard of Henry VIII, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill and a bunch of other people I thought *everyone* knew about. A schoolfriend (of mine, not his)( was shown The Rutles, and didn't really get it because she didn't know who John Lennon was. I was astounded then I thought that if the only paper you read was the local one, and you didn't watch the news or read, it could be pretty easy to avoid things.
posted by mippy at 4:07 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


i don't know why People like to use Capital Letters on random Words. These People are for the most Part Speakers of English, not German. They are also not referring to God.

I see this all the time at work, when people want to emphasize that Something Is Important. Where I work, we have a problem with people not reading the material we put out (directions, instructions, etc. which, if they're dealing with us, they are probably required by law to be familiar with). This leads to our staff putting Important Things in Italics with capital letters. Of course, since nearly everything is important, the more important things then have to be in Bold Italics With Capitals, so then the really important things have to be in BOLD ITALICS in all caps, then the stuff we really, seriously, need you to read are also in red.

Sometimes they also increase the font size. As you might expect, this means much of our official documentation in the past has had this weird mottled visual look to it, and naturally, no one ends up reading it.


A close friend of mine who is a conservative republican type does this in his emails to me. He includes various font sizes, colors, bold, italic and underlining. If I bother to reply to his messages I strip all of the formatting out. He doesn't get the hint. The worst is when he's raving about Obama. Then I have to strip the formatting to understand it at all.
posted by Splunge at 4:31 AM on May 10, 2011


> So he had to give a brief five minute American history lecture to a college student in order to proceed with his English class

I thought 'foreign student' as well....


She wasn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on May 10, 2011


have been handed the very worse scenario for life on this earth in the history of human existence (if the financial crisis, pandemics or terrorists don't get you, the environment will)

I was somewhat with you until this point, though your first few points seemed like exaggeration (class sizes here have been about 2/3 what they were when I was in school, until that began to change this year, and as a student in the 70s and 80s, I was subjected to 'new math' and all that era's education reforms). But the above is beyond hyperbole. It's ridiculous.

Every generation has boogeymen, whether they be communists or terrorists or marauding Huns, and every generation has pandemics and epidemics (black plague, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, Spanish flu, HIV, etc.). My mother's Depression and polio and Nazis became my Reaganomics and Cold War and HIV became my children's recession and terrorists and avian and swine flu.
posted by notashroom at 7:43 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not an academic, but there are a few 18-20 year olds at my workplace who are fresh out of high school, and i am amazed at what they don't know. They...

-- Never heard of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, most other non-current music acts.

-- Have no clue why the '60s or '70s were considered turbulent.

-- Believe that the President is an elected king with unlimited power.

-- Don't understand that the sun is a star, that stars compose galaxies, etc.

I could go on. Kids! They are dumb.
posted by ELF Radio at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 2005, compared with 1955, the average human being on Planet Earth earned nearly three times as much money (corrected for inflation), ate one-third more calories of food, buried one-third as many of her children, and could expect to live one-third longer.
----Matt Ridley
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:00 AM on May 10, 2011


I'm not an academic, but there are a few 18-20 year olds at my workplace who are fresh out of high school, and i am amazed at what they don't know.

Take a look at the annual Beloit College mindset list and metafilter threads on it from 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:00 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It being finals week, I had one today, with a student telling me about a local Jewish congregation's big Easter celebration. Passover? I prompted her. No, no, Easter, she insisted. Jews don't celebrate Easter, I told her, and she seemed completely puzzled.

It's a World Religions class. And now I feel like my syllabus next year has to include a provision for what to do when a student demonstrates he or she LEARNED EXACTLY NOTHING FROM THE CLASS, but does not do so on an actual assignment.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:05 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows: I feel like I need a provision for what to do when students, say, claim that something has probability 2 of happening. Or -1. (The better ones at least put a little note saying "I know this is wrong.")
posted by madcaptenor at 4:08 PM on May 10, 2011


I should also point out that many of these nuggets are just unfortunate turns of phrase, though some of them (cf. my examples) can also be seen as commentary on the sad state of elementary and secondary schooling.

I actually had one student write something that literally made me laugh out loud, almost certainly by accident, in an answer which was very good. For a test on the history of Nazism, students had to write short identifications of historical figures or events. One of these was Ernst Röhm, leader of the Brownshirts (the early private militia of the Nazis), who was killed on Hitler's orders in the summer of 1934. Röhm was seen as part of the "left" (more economically radical) wing of the Nazis party, and he was hurting Hitler's rapport with the German establishment. Röhm was gay; Hitler had known this for a long time, but after the killing it was part of Hitler's ex post facto justification: he was weeding out "perversion" in the Nazi ranks and such.

Anyway, my student wrote this about Hitler's betrayal of Röhm:

Ernst Röhm was turned on by Hitler.
posted by dhens at 4:20 PM on May 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


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