Validation for my grammatical errors, hooray!
When I was in Wesley Girls' High School, the worst crime you could commit was make a grammatical mistake while speaking. It was not your teachers that made you miserable. It was your classmates.
An error in grammar was like firing a shot. You make a mistake and someone yells out "Bullet!" Girls duck under tables and yell "Well dodged!" so loudly that the cry is taken up in neighboring classes and everyone wants to know who this terrible person is. Such is the passion when the colonial language becomes sacred. St Peter might very well deny you entry into heaven if you make a mistake. And woe unto you if you're a teacher. You'll have a memorial long after you've gone.
My typing teacher once slipped and said:
"Let the paper faces you!"
She was doomed. From that point on, if we saw her coming, we yelled "Let the paper faces you!" We ran into hiding, laughing.
Another teacher said, "One, two...three; both of you, follow me." Ai!
The interesting thing is that some of this comes from our own language. For instance, I speak Fanti, and in Fanti, there's no gender in pronouns. So if I want to say "He is coming", I'll say, "O reba." (Actually, the letter is a C turned backwards, but I can't get it here)
'O' stands for 'he'. I'd say the same thing for "she." So when I'm speaking English, I tend to mix the two up. Not because I don't know the difference but because, psychologically, I think of he and she as one. I can't get rid of it. I've tried. It happens more frequently when I speak, though rarely when I write. My American-born children laugh at me when I tell a story. I get interrupted with "Mummy, I thought it was the man, now you're saying she", whereupon I snap, "You know what I mean!" Sometimes, the poor sods are genuinely confused.
So I find myself making a deliberate effort to think about gender. But when I'm excited, all bets are off. He/she bullets fly out of my mouth. Hearer beware. But yesterday, I felt so good when, at a Ghanaian church, the pastor did it:
"When the woman came to me, I looked at him and.." I looked at my daughter. We giggled. Now, the pastor was Ashanti, a people known for interchanging the "l" and "r" sounds in their dialect. The younger generation manages very well, but the older ones trip now and again. Without warning, he said:
"Let me erabolate my point further".
I knew I was in God's house and it wasn't his fault for saying erabolate when he meant to say elaborate, but I couldn't help laughing. With affection, of course.
Shiboleth, Siboleth; who cares?
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