I've been working on spelling conventions with my eighth-grade girls this week, and the other day we were working on the "i before e except after c" rule. After breaking down the rule and its exceptions, one of my girls tried to find yet another loophole.
"Well, what about piece?" she asked.
"ie." I said (she was thinking it is spelled "peice").
After a few seconds, she came back with, "What about field?"
"NIECE!" she was sure she'd caught me with this one.
"Huh, I guess you're right."
So glad I can tell my parents that the 4 years and several thousand dollars they spent on college has paid off!!
After that we discussed the word "leisure" and I gave my estimation that, yes it doesn't follow the rule or its exceptions, but I think that's because it's spelled according to the English pronunciation as opposed to the American.
"But teacher, why don't the Americans just change the way it's spelled?" one of my lovelies asked.
"Because we didn't invent the language, so it's not our change to make," I said.
"You didn't?!" she said, a look of genuine shock on her face.
"...no! The English did."
"Then why do Americans speak English?" she asked. I couldn't help but let a little laugh squeak out with that one. I was thinking a few other people in the room would join in on the laugh, but instead I was faced with 14 expectant students waiting for my answer and wondering what was so funny.
"Wait, ya'll really have no idea why Americans speak English?" I asked.
"Christopher Columbus!" a voice called out proudly.
"He was Italian and sailing on behalf of the Spanish," I said.
"The Boston Tea Party?" another voice ventured.
"eh, closer," I said, holding up two fingers to indicate how close the answer was.
"OH! It's because the potatoes in England all tasted bad, so everyone left!"
That one, by far, was my favorite answer. I doubled over laughing, apologizing and explaining that while the answer was wrong, it was also incredibly funny and cute.
I then gave a very abridged history of my country--Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, colonization, etc. The class gave a collective "OOOohhhhh."
"But, Teacher. I have two questions."
"Lay it on me."
"One: Why do Americans hate the Irish..."
I was stumped already.
"...and two, why do Americans sound different than the British?" That second one made a little more sense. I could at least follow the train of thought on that one.
"Well, I'm not sure why the accents are different. It's probably for the same reason that Egyptians sound different than Saudis. Distance."
They all nodded, satisfied with that answer.
"But why would you think that Americans hate the Irish!? We practically all have some Irish blood in us!" I asked, shrugging my shoulders.
"Because! One time I was in New York and I went in a hat store and I saw a hat that said, 'I hate Irish.'" she said.
"What kind of hat store did you stumble into!?" I asked with a chuckle.
"I don't know!"
"OOH! Do you mean it said, 'Fighting Irish'?!" I said, holding up two fists.
"YEAH! That was it!"
Again, I was doubled over in laughter. "No, that's not a declaration! There's a university--Notre Dame--its mascot is called the Fighting Irish. So the shirt was in support of Notre Dame, not in protest of the Irish."
I wonder how many other misconceptions about American culture are out there because of misconstrued college paraphernalia.