Sunday, December 6, 2009

When the homeroom bell rings is the naming of things

Busy weekend, so a brief brief update:

This week, our Oral English class began its "Culture" unit, our third unit of the semester. For reference, the other two units were "People" and "Language". (The culture unit is going to be about American and Chinese people and their customs. The language unit was about American and Chinese people and their language, the people unit was about American and Chinese people. In particular, their culture and language.)

We decided to kick off our culture class by playing a game, and before the game started, we gave each group a chance to choose team names. In the very first class, the representative from the very first group stood up and said that they wanted their name to be "mammal." "Ok," I said, writing "mammal" on the board. "Team 1 will be 'mammal.'"

Everyone in the group begins to laugh uproariously; one guy waves his hands and mouths "No" over and over again.

"Not, mammal," the representative finally manages to say. "Mammowln."

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Mammowlnssfaasjkf."

"Can you spell it?"

"M-A-M-M-O-N."

"Mammon????"

"Yes," the representative says, and then turns to the rest of the class and says smugly, "It means 'rich man.'"

Yeah, that's not quite true. But they liked the name anyway, and so in the end Team "Mammon" it was. Versus "Eggplant City." Versus "Happy Birthday, Milk Sister." In a heated battle of cultural wits.

Later in the week, an entire class reduced itself to tears (I was not involved) during the Team Name portion of the class. Their team names, in order, were,

JRB

Sabio

RSE

LRB

Pure Man

Brother Big

Everyone was laughing after "Sabio", and after "LRB" one student took his cell phone out to take a picture of the blackboard, on which were written what I can only assume to be the Fourteen Funniest Letters in the World.

A team in another class named itself "SOBs", and when I asked what it meant, they laughed and said, "Oh, nothing." I then saw one of the students lean over to a classmate and say, "It means son of bitches!" And they both grinned and looked to see if I had heard them.

Guys. I'm a native English speaker. I know what SOB means. You are not fooling me with your acronyms. Except when your acronyms are JRB, RSE, and LRB, because then you clearly are fooling me. Like, really well. Because I have no idea what those mean.

(Unrelated: remember when one of my students watched "Mulholland Dr." after I recommended it to the class? Well this morning another student texted me and asked me to recommend a recent American novel, and without really thinking I told her to check out Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". Strike two!)