Hodgepodge: July 21, 2012

by Roy Hodge

My mother-in-law is always looking out for me — sending me stuff she thinks I would enjoy, but might also want to use in a column; or perhaps she is trying to help me out because she has read some of what I have written.

The latest missive she has sent is an article by university professor James Courter relating some of the student writing errors he has encountered.

One student said he had trouble getting into “the proper frame of mime” for class. Two members of the class said they were in trouble with the law. One’s e-mail said that he had been charged with a “mister meaner;” the other with a “misdeminor.”

One student admitted to doing “half-hazard” work. Another said he wasn’t smart enough to go to an “Ivory League school.”  While one student complained that his roommate was “from another dementian,” another was upset that a roommate was using his “toilet trees.”

More than one student alluded to “a doggy-dog world,” one girl thought she was “being taken for granite,” and another student worried that education reform might result in school being in “secession” all year long.

One freshman wrote, “Life has too much realism,” and another said he gets away from it all by spending the day “sitting on a peer.”

I’ve borrowed before from author Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English,” which he has subtitled “An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language.”

Lederer is a high school English teacher and students also provide him with a lot of material for his book. In the book’s first pages, he reports that students “have given bizarre twists to history.”

It has been asserted that Wyatt Burp and Wild Bill Hiccup were two great western marshals, and that the inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

He noted that sometimes the humor is the result of confusion between two words. Students have written, “Having one wife is called monotony,” “A man who marries twice commits bigotry,” and “Acrimony is what a man gives his divorced wife.”

Lederer culled the following from the efforts of his students:

“A virgin forest is a place where the hand of man has never set foot.”

“Although the patient had never been fatally ill before, he woke up dead.”

“I expected to enjoy the film, but that was before I saw it.”

“Arabs wear turbines on their heads.”

“It is bad manners to break your bread and roll in your soup.”

Lederer notes that students have put their own interesting touches on American history. The author compiled this account from genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United States, from eighth grade through college level:

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