kitchen table math, the sequel: And here's to you, Mrs. Malaprop

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

And here's to you, Mrs. Malaprop

I love student malapropisms.

I love student logic misfires just as much.

From Ignorance is Blitz: Mangled Moments of History From Actual College Students Paperback by Anders Henriksson:
Judyism was the first monolithic religion. It had one big God named 'Yahoo'.

Noah's ark came to it's end near Mt. Arafat.

These pre-Socratics lived long before Plato and were not decisively influenced by his work.

Eventually Christian started the new religion with sayings like, 'The mice shall inherit the earth'. Later Christians fortunately abandoned this idea.

Romans persacuted Christians by lionizing them in public stadiums.

Without the discovery of the flying buttock it would have been an impossible job to build the Gothic cathedral.

(Regarding the Black Plague): "Death rates exceeded 100% in some towns."

This was a time of stunned growth. The plague also helped the emergence of English as the national language of England, France, and Italy.

Renaissance merchants were beautiful and almost lifelike. They enriched themselves by planting wool and selling it for clothing. They increased these profets by paying interest to people who borrowed money from them. This produced even more grits for the mills of change.

Hitler, who had become depressed for some reason, crawled under Berlin. Here he had his wife Evita put to sleep, and then shot himself in the bonker.

Stalin, Rosevelt, Churchill, and Truman were known as the 'big three'.
And this:
It is now the age of now. This concept grinds our critical, seething minds to a halt.
You can say that again.


Jean said...

"Shot himself in the bonker" is my new favorite catchphrase. There will never be a time when that does not crack me up.

Anonymous said...

"These pre-Socratics lived long before Plato and were not decisively influenced by his work."

How is this wrong? The use of the word 'decisively'?

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

My name is Dom Einhorn and I am with, one of the fastest-growing pay-to-view advertising networks.. I believe that your site can benefit from the tremendous exposure Powerclick provides, at the lowest prices per click.

We offer targeted ad packages for as low as $.006 (almost half a penny per click) and test campaigns for as little as $15. You can download our media kit via this link:

Our advertising platform is 100% self-serve, with instant activation. It takes 5 minutes to set up, fund and activate your campaign.

Should you have any questions, simply contact me via (.co, and I will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Dom Einhorn

Jean said...

Mark, pre-Socratics can't have been influenced at all by Plato, who was not born yet when they were around. :)

Anonymous said...

"Mark, pre-Socratics can't have been influenced at all by Plato, who was not born yet when they were around. :)"

Right ... so the claim that "These pre-Socratics lived long before Plato and were not decisively influenced by his work" is correct. So where is the humor?

-Mark Roulo

SATVerbalTutor. said...

@ Mark, the point is that it's so obvious that it doesn't need to be said -- the kid was simply trying to fill up space by stating the obvious. Taken in context of a real argument about the chronology of Greek philosophy and ideas about which Plato and the pre-Socratics agree, it might be worth mentioning, but here the kid probably needed to fill x number of pages and, not having sufficient ideas of real value to reach that target, had to put in some fluff.

cranberry said...

And "decisively" implies they might have been influenced to a lesser degree, which is impossible. To me, it implies the student wants to cover all his bases, for some sort of partial credit.

Jean said...

It sounds like the student thinks the pre-Socratics were somewhat (or could have been) influenced by Plato.

Glen said...

They weren't decisively influenced by someone who hadn't been born yet is the same humor as Twain's comment that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

Catherine Johnson said...

Glen - RIGHT!

The word 'decisively' makes it pretty hilarious, to me at least, because they can't have been influenced AT ALL ---- and the word "decisively" implies they could have been un-decisively, or slightly, or faintly influenced by his work.

The other aspect that I find funny is the student's use of a standard academic formulation without really getting when & why that formulation is used...

Hainish said...

Catherine, this IdeaLab post re-visits David Coleman's caution that teachers need to move away from writing about the personal:

(Also, did you mention something about a blog on the teaching of writing?)

Anonymous said...


I wish the comments on the IdeaLab blog weren't closed, so I'll say this here, even though I've said it before.

The idea of having students write about themselves isn't to indulge them, but to spy on them - to examine them for politically incorrect thoughts.