A Few English Parlor Tricks

Despite all evidence to the contrary I haven’t given up coming up with decent WCYDWT examples for English. In the meantime, here are a few English pieces that don’t make that bar but interest me nonetheless. They aren’t much more than parlor tricks but they might interest someone.

“My Hands Smell Like Colon”

Colon vs cologne – Sometimes spelling something wrong changes the meaning quite a bit.

Sort of

‘Sort of’ is such a harmless thing to say… sort of. It’s just a filler. Sort of… it doesn’t really mean anything. But after certain things, sort of means everything. Like… after “I love you”… or “You’re going to live”… or “It’s a boy!”

-Demetri Martin

The details in the language in these examples matter. You can have fun with how that works and use small things to break the intent of statements. It’d be a fun running assignment that would get students engaging with language in the wild in different ways.

Shakespeare – Old School

Original Pronunciation – This site is devoted to the production or performance of works from earlier periods of English spoken in original pronunciation (OP) – that is, in an accent that would have been in use at the time.

I remember my English teacher talking about sight rhymes. It’s interesting to see that it probably wasn’t the case. Once again, one of those things where the details matter and change the understanding of the work.

Comments on this post

  1. Tim Stahmer said on April 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Related to Demetri Martin, an interesting assignment might be to show the kids a little bit of Stephen Wright and his interesting use of interpreting everyday language (“Whenever I think of the past it just brings up so many memories.”) and then have them write some similar observations of their own.

    • Tom said on April 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      I think the “recreate this model” thing would work but I think the main reason it’s funny and Stephen (as well as Demetri) gets paid is because it’s hard to do well. I keep feeling like there has to be something more to do with these things than that but clearly I’m not sure what that is.

      I’m messing with the concept of “breaking” communication as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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