Friday, March 14, 2008

"China in Box" and other amusing uses of English. The Brazilian fast food outlet which delivers noodles to your door, "China in Box" has started marketing on TV. What strikes me as odd is that they seem to be consciously aware that the name of their outlet uses incorrect English. The advert has a Chinese person speaking English saying "China in Box" in a ham accent, as if to reinforce the idea that missing the indefinite article is a problem far-eastern people make when using foreign languages. (Even the grammtically-correct name of "China in a box" is somewhat surreal). The irony, of course, is that most "China in Box" customers will be Brazilians who don't speak English and are unaware of what mistakes Chinese people make speaking English. Ultimately, it is an example of bad English out there in the real world which is bound to come back and bite me, an English teacher, where it most hurts: namely, in the classroom. I'm half expecting my kids to come up with abominal constructions such as "Renato in car" and "Larissa in swimming pool" and "Brazil in cupboard".

Speaking of dodgy English, have I told you the one about the local seafood restaurant who had their entire menu translated into English? Every single item came under the wily eye of some bilingual jobsmith. This included a translation for "Tia Maria" as, you guessed it, "Aunt Mary". It's enough to make you want to knock back a couple shots of... well... Aunt Mary, I suppose.

Lastly, hot-footing it on this hall of infamy, comes my new Intermediate class who took tests this week. To be fair to them, they are a bunch of teenagers who would really prefer not be in an English class (and I would prefer them not to be there) and are finding the jump up to this level quite tough. But, is this really good enough, I ask? I blame the teacher.

Complete the sentences:
The person in charge of a sports team is a c_______ .
Correct answer: captain/coach
Student answer: charger

Maria is on a d_______. She is not eating chocolate or sweets.
Correct answer: diet.
Student answer: delicious
Another student answer: deserts (I think Maria being "on a deserts" [sic] was the reason for the diet, non?)

My mother's new husband is my s_________.
Correct answer: stepfather.
Student answer: sister (WHATTT!!!???? The implications are terrifying!)

The brother of my mother is my u_____.
Correct Answer: uncle.
Student answer: uant. (Eh?)

So, I`ve got my work cut out this term, I can tell you.

Joy has left the building. And it's goodbye to Joy who was with us for 3 weeks. "Titia Doy" as Nelson referred to her, will be sorely missed. Next entry on this blog will feature some of Joy's artwork.

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