Fiasco. Gamut. Proust. Intrinsically.
These are words that my native-speaking English reading and writing students could not pronounce yesterday as we read aloud from screenplays. There were more words, and there were also words that my non-native speakers missed (the best was when one student said "shits" instead of "sits," changing the entire scene with that one verb).
But as I listen to these 20-year-olds read aloud, I mourn the loss of the skill of reading aloud, the loss of the language, the way that words are going away because few say them any more, at least on the street, in daily language, in passing.
"What a damn fiasco," is going the way of Middle English. Proust is no longer on anyone's shelves. The gamut of words has shrunk. No one understands anything intrinsically.
But I haven't given up on this activity, even though it is at times very painful. We read plays and screenplays. I've stopped with the Shakespeare for a while, at least in freshman English because it was proving too hard for my non-native speaking students who would be unable to work a "shits" into Hamlet.
I wonder, though, where the oral tradition is going. Or has it gone anywhere? Is my study too small? I have 90 freshman comp students a semester, and while some sail over the reading, most do not. Are parents still reading aloud to their children? Does anyone younger than 30 go to plays any more? Poetry readings? Have we really given over the life of words to the internet?
I would miss the voices should that happen. I would miss the elevated delivery from the stage, the delivery from the podium. I would miss the words in the ear, now seemingly all intended for the eye.
I refuse to let go. We sit around, reading the pages, getting the feel, even though the language eludes. I interrupt, correcting pronunciation because I want them to know that gamut is not ga-moot. I want them to know a fiasco rather than a fia-sco. And if they learn one thing in my class, it will be that Proost is not Prowst.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org