21 March 2014

The borders of cultural references....

I'm currently teaching in Italy, and as they all speak an H-less language here, it's unsurprising that a lot of them make mistakes with Hs.

Many of them do try, but unfortunately this often leads to the phenomenon called "hypercorrection" -- ie. they attempt to correct things that aren't wrong to start off with. In the case of H, this means Hs inserted into words naturally starting with vowels.

And so it was today that I was teaching the future tense, and when I was looking for the answer "I will", a couple of my students said "h-I'll".

Now how's a teacher supposed to react to that? I spun round from the board, straightening my arm and shouting "HEIL!". Now what I had forgotten was that what most of the world thinks of as the "Nazi salute" is actually a pan-fascist salute, a neo-imperial confection claimed by its originators to be a revival of Roman tradition. And of course, Italy had plenty of fascists of its own.


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