Friday, April 29, 2011

I Heart Royalty

No, this post isn't about the inbred rich dude who got hitched in England today, and shame on you for even thinking I'd care enough to write about that. Though in retrospect, maybe it's my fault for writing the wrong title; this post should be called "I heart royalty payments." Yesterday I learned that the German publisher of an English-as-a-second-language textbook got licensed to print one of my Guardian immigration columns. [Boyfriend's response: "Germans pick your least scathing piece. That must hurt."]

Not really, but what does hurt, as I remember back to my own student attempts to read whatever foreign-language essays my teachers and textbook publishers deemed acceptable, is knowing karmic law demands certain high school students in Germany will one day hate me. I always try to write so the result is easy to read and understand, and I daresay my immigration column met that standard . . . assuming you-the-reader are not only fluent in English, but also familiar with American history, laws, mainstream politics and everyday culture.

But I tried reading the column again, imagining myself someone for whom the English language is something I must seek out rather than my everyday means of communication, and without footnotes I might not understand that "suckitude" is no real word but a slightly vulgar portmanteau, and the word "illegals" considered rude and incorrect as a plural noun but neutral and grammatically sound in singular adjectival form. There's also mention of "totalitarian regimes," and regime-vs-government is a standard example used in American denotation/connotation lessons; when I taught high school English I did that lesson every year.

What laws regarding the status of people who to the United States emigrate does the woman who this column wrote prefer? Cite three examples to your answer support.


Anonymous Russ 2000 said...

Don't worry about German students. Worry that the US Constitution is taught to American students the exact same way. And then you'll understand the disdain for the thing.

Essentially, teaching children the US Constitution is the exact way to get them to hate the thing. It's a document written by adults FOR adults, so teaching it to 12 year olds is probably a bad idea. (I suppose it might have been a good idea 150 years ago when 13 year olds were treated as adults.)

3:58 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

I don't remember reading anything in German that I liked, except a translated book of Hoffnung cartoons.

11:17 AM  
Blogger York said...

Hi Jennifer,

Congratulations on getting your essay into a textbook. I wouldn't worry about the kids hating you; hatred is reserved for German and English novelists whose works are raped for months at a time.

In fact that essay ties in nicely into a debate very much in vogue at the moment in Germany and it has an unusual angle (for Germans). I would have loved to have such an article during my time in high school; one is normally fed very predictable stuff.

Plus it is critical of a US policy so the 68er holdovers still manning German highschools will lap it up (probably the reason why the publisher selected it).

7:16 PM  

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