Yesterday's class was cool. We spent much of it bantering amongst ourselves in open discussion. Quite literally, it felt like I was a member of a book club, not a student in a formal classroom.
With the exception of a mini-lecture on Chaucer, the bulk of the class was dedicated to discussing what we'd been assigned to read:
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
There's something about my prof. that I absolutely love. She makes me laugh. She's a stickler for all things good like grammar, spelling and proper pronunciation. Also, you'd be best in her class to choose your words carefully BEFORE you open your mouth. She's forever stopping a student, drawing attention to what they've just said and asking them point blank if there's a better way to say it.
This kills me.
I get such a charge out of it!
Call me crazy, but I'm quite literally entertained by that!
The many examples from last night's class escape me except for one... because it was mine. At the beginning of the class, dear Professor M. asked if we all felt we were in the "right" class.
"Is there anyone here who doesn't recognize this room? Are you in the right class?"
She'd realized that there were a couple faces unfamiliar to her - hence the question.
I put up my hand.
She looked puzzled.
"David, you're in the right class, you've been here from the beginning."
"Yes," I said, "but I have a better word."
"A better word?", she inquired.
"Than 'right'", I said. "How about... 'correct'?"
Oh boy. Did I start a discussion!
"Is David right? Is David correct? Which is better?", she queried the class.
She looks to me, "Explain, please."
"Well, 'Are you in the correct classroom?', to my way of thinking is more... precise because 'right' could also be confused with direction." , I said, rather proud of my quick response - which I really didn't have enough time to comfortably formulate before spitting it out! (Once a Turtle, always a Turtle...)
After much debate (and I seriously didn't intend to open a Pandora's Tool Box of Speech) we came to the conclusion that 'right' was perfectly correct as she had used it.
The arguments were flying left, right and centre, and I was a little foggy when the dust had finally settled. From what I remember, the reason she was correct in using the word 'right' is that there is a hair to be split here. Could I remember? Nope.
This morning, I emailed M. to get the straight goods.
DAVID: "...I was reflecting on our discussion from last night regarding the use of the words 'right' and 'correct'. I was trying to sort through by memory all the different arguments that floated about over the course of this discussion. I can't for the life of me remember accurately the conclusion we came to on the difference between 'right' and 'correct' (in the context of "Are you in the 'right' (or 'correct') room?".) Could you jog my memory for me, please? I seem to recall something of "societal" VS.. "permission"? Perhaps I'm still in a fog. I need tea..."
PROF. M.: "...'Right' has, in addition to the usage which is synonymous with 'correct', a moral connotation that 'correct' lacks.
Correctness is about facts, it seems to me, whereas rightness is about being properly (another synonym!) located, morally & ethically.
All this, of course, is semantics!"
So there you have it: one of the things that makes the English language unique and far from dead. Also a fine motivator for all things good... like tea and coffee.