Saturday, October 10, 2009

Better than you is OK

At my school, kids are in the English part of the building for half a day, and are expected to speak English the entire time. They get long breaks between classes (10-15 minutes) when they can usually play, and unfortunately the things they want to communicate in English outstrips their English abilities for the first few years, so they develop a particular brand of English that's hard to break. So even my sixth-graders, who can use the word "undulating" in a sentence, say things like "I don't want give you see" and "He use me." (That's when someone hits you- I still don't get it.)

My one class has developed a few that are unique to that class. One is "Go eat your peanut," said in a disparaging voice when someone's being annoying. They're not allowed to say that anymore, because it's no meaningful English, and it just seems wrong somehow to me.

The other one is when two kids are trading insults ("You are so plump" and "You are so dopey" are the most popular), the insulted party says "Better than you is OK," which translates to "At least I'm not as (plump/ dopey/ etc) as you" and is kind of a Chinglish "I know you are but what am I."

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