Sunday, November 04, 2007

great words number 458 & 459

Luddite

One entry found.

Luddite

Main Entry:
Ludd·ite
Pronunciation:
\ˈlə-ˌdīt\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
perhaps from Ned Ludd, 18th century Leicestershire workman who destroyed a knitting frame
Date:
1811
: one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly : one who is opposed to especially technological change
Luddite adjective

hurly-burly

One entry found.

hurly-burly

Main Entry:
hur·ly–bur·ly
Pronunciation:
\ˌhər-lē-ˈbər-lē\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
probably alteration & reduplication of hurling, gerund of hurl
Date:
1539
There is a story why this word is so great. And it is such one of my most favorite stories I have to tell it.

When I was teaching in Russia, there were many things different.

In the English classes there, for example, the teacher mostly didn't know English. And really how could they have, since they largely had never heard the language. Remember, they were less than 15 years into Glasnost and TV wasn't in English and they seldom had that opportunity to travel, plus Russia spans 11 time zones and truly a behemoth of a country. The mere fact that they could get everyone to learn Russian and basically speak that without too much variation was a feat in itself. To me it is amazing they knew any English at all.

So in Peace Corps they pair you will a "counterpart" and that counterpart facilitates work for you. For me, my counterpart basically trotted me around the countryside of Chuvashia and said "First I brought you George Soros money, and now I have brought you AN AMERICAN" One would expect the crowd to gasp. I felt like a show poodle.

Through this however I got to (yes I am getting to the good part) see alot of classes of Russians teaching English. They are fascinating. I largely felt very sorry for these teachers, they often hadn't been paid in months and the mere presence of a higher up meant that this could be the day they lost their jobs. I tended to be very nice. Because actually, I didn't care much one way or they other. But they sure did.

The one teacher who I will never forget was a rotund happy faced middle aged woman who I believe all her students just loooooved her. She had some elementary students. And she started off with the weather. As you read this, don't merely read it, sing it, and sing it with an operatic tone and faux british accent to really appreciate her voice.

"What is the weathah like outside today children!?"

"It's raining! Thaht's right it's raining" (all children repeat, and she asks individual students to parrot back to her)

"Yes, children, it is raining, and in fact, it is raining very hard!"

"It's raining very hard, it's a HURLY BURLY!"

And if it wasn't odd enough that she was teaching children 15th century English (which I bet was actually pretty fun for them because the word was sort of unusual), she had placed rubber bands on all their desks and had them practice pulling out their british vowels Huuuuurly Buuuuuuuurly.

Now in SIOP they teach us to use kinesthetics as much as possible, and never before have a seen such a thing as 15th century English taught using ahead of her time techniques. You go teacher!

I'll never forget her voice though...

2 comments:

Mrs. T said...

I'm picturing her in a huge, 1920's style beaver coat, waving a penant, yelling "Hurly Burly!".
Was her name Olga?

Adeline said...

Well considering it seems like 35 to 50 percent of all Russian women are named Olga, there is a good chance she was named that!