While grading papers tonight…

I found myself reading a very casual description of Henry V’s sex life [i]. Well, the paper was on 3.4, and Queen Catherine’s English lesson, in which she observes the similarities between the English “foot” and “gown” and the French “foutre” and “con”. (I’m trying to avoid spam: go look them up in your Shakespeare notes.)

I sometimes wonder if my students take my good-humoured manner in seminar as an invitation to be so casual in their written work. Or perhaps they take the “short paper” assignment to imply a degree of informality.  Or they think that because Shakespeare uses informal, bawdy language in his play, they can too. Either way, it’s a drastic misreading of the genre of their assignment.

Sorry, third years, a formal paper is a formal paper: avoid those colloquialisms.

13 November 2009 ~ Hamilton

End Notes.

[i] Henry’s sex life. The phrase “get shag” was used.  Then I had to explain to Jesse what the phrase means. Shag is a synonym for a female body part, guys.  “La con.” Look it up.


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