Thursday, July 2, 2009

epitome, umlaut, metamorphosis, grandiose

The title is a few of the more pretentious impressive words I remember learning as a kid, always through books. I never had any idea how to say them, nor did I really have much occasion to, so mostly they just stayed in my head. Sometimes I managed to include them in my writing. Though sometimes, I assumed the pronunciation was obvious, and embarrassed myself. (Thanks, mom, for remembering e-pi-tome.)

I have a post-it note in my planner that I just like having there. I wrote down one of these words that one of my eighth grade students used earlier this year. He has Asperger's Syndrome and is incredibly bright--so he often uses those words that I wouldn't have used, because I was too shy and concerned with what other people would think. I already got teased for always having a book with me, but that was just something I had to deal with--I was not about to leave the books behind.

I don't remember the context of my student using this word--though I wish I did. But I only wrote down the word. And predictably, when he used it, everyone rolled their eyes, there was some groaning, and at least one person said something along the lines of, "Why does he talk like that?" or "What the hell is he talking about?" or "Who cares?" He appeared not to notice, pleased with his observation and his use of a new word. His classmates weren't making fun of how he said the word. They were making fun of him for using it, for knowing it. No one else had any idea what it meant, or if they did, they were not about to admit it.

The word was posthumously. He said it the same way I said it the first time I tried it out--probably not until the end of high school, or maybe college. I wrote it down how he said it: post humously, like postal, and like humorously. That's what it looks like!

I didn't correct him. Maybe I should have. It's always hard, as a teacher, to know what will normalize a situation and what will make it even more awkward and potentially painful.

I couldn't catch him after class, either, because he leaves five minutes before the bell, so he won't get harassed by the other kids in the hallway.


kb said...

i avoid saying posthumous out loud because i'm never sure i'm pronouncing it right. it does have two pronunciations but neither start with "post" like "postal."

Gerry said...

was epitome "E-PIE-tome" cuz that's what I would have said

Elissa said...

e PIT o me (like you, me)