Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

Abbreviated Learning

thanks to toothpaste for dinner for the pix

“That’s not an abbreviation,” I say to the student who has written a paragraph depicting the informal features of a text wherein he lists you’re as an abbreviation.

“Oh,” he says. “That’s right, that’s um… ”

“Yeah,” says the girl next to him, who has completed the same task. “That’s a contraction.”

“Right, a contraction,” says the boy. “What about don’t … is that an abbreviation?”

“No, that’s a contraction too, a sammenslåing – you know, two words put together into one,” I say. “An abbreviation is, well, the opposite, like a short version of a word.”

“Can you give us an example?” asks the girl. The two of them have been working through a 4-lesson writing course that I have copied from a textbook for them to use as extra credit. They must read all the lessons, do all the tasks, and write a 5 paragraph composition at the end of the project. It is advanced work. They are above average students. I would like to think of myself as also above average. After all, I wrote the writing course that was published in the textbook I have copied it out of. But I cannot really remember if it says anything about abbreviations. It should?

I ask them: “Does the writing course give you any examples?”

We don’t have the writing course in front of us, but they assure me it did. We have all read it. One of us wrote it; but we  purse our brows and cannot for the life of us think of an abbreviation.

Except that’s not true. An example has popped into my head: Porn. Short for pornography. I don’t want to say that though, so I keep thinking.

Meanwhile the boy says, “What about etc.?”

“Well, yes, sort of,” I say. “And likewise, i.e. and e.g. … but there are words that are abbreviations, you know, like…. ”

PORN! my brain tries to get me to shout. The word is plastered across my consciousness, proclaiming itself to be the only abbreviation in the world. No no no no – don’t say that! They’ll think you’re crazy or trying to embarrass them or a creepy teacher with a pornography infested psyche… THINK THINK THINK! CRIMINY!

“Hmmm… I’m having trouble thinking of one. Goodness, there’s got to be lots of them…?” I chuckle.

Wanna?” says the girl. “That’s not one is it?”

“No,” says the boy. “That would be slang.”

“That is sort of a slang contraction,” I add.

ASAP? Is that one?” the boy asks.

“No, that’s…” I can’t think of any words PORN! PORN IS AN ABBREVIATION! has taken over my brain, flashing like a banner across my forehead. I half expect one of the students to say it. That would be acceptable. They’re teenagers. It’s a perfectly legitimate English word in the vernacular of a teenage Norwegian.

THINK THINK THINK! COME UP WITH AN ABBREVIATION ALREADY, WILLYA??? My brain is whirring with non-word-mumbly-gray-globs dancing like dervishes around the one and only abbreviation: porn porn porn.

Then the boy has an idea. His face lights up and he straightens his back. I think he even lifts his finger, pointing skyward in the classic pose of, I’VE GOT IT!

“Would it be like ped, for pedagogy?” he queries.

“That’s correct. Good example,” I chirp, while my inner language-demon thumbs his nose and retreats with the PORN billboard under his arm.

I suppress my impulse to laugh,  share what just happened and ask them to explore the meaning of irony. At this point, it is clear they are perfectly capable of, if not even better off, carrying on without me.

One comment on “Abbreviated Learning

  1. Carole Besharah
    14/06/2014

    This is hilarious Rasma! You should have given them the PORN example… it would have stuck. Cheers.

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