Wednesday, December 17, 2014

p and b are hard

Arabic doesn't have a 'p' sound, which often leads to my students saying p instead of b, or b instead of p, or multiple layers of all of the above. I have been called "Pridget" before, because they think it's Bridget, but then they think that maybe they just think it's b but really it's p, so they take a chance and say p instead of b.

This confusion has led to two funny things in my class lately.

1. A student wrote me an email and said he would turn in his homework "as soon as baseball." Whaaa? Wait for it. Now change the b sounds to p sounds and you'll see why he made that mistake.

2. Today I gave a quiz on count/non-count nouns. The students just had to go through a list of nouns and circle whether they were count or non-count. By the way, the distinction is this: with a count noun, you can say "a [noun]" or use the plural form - flowers, coins, necklaces. With a non-count noun, you can't - foliage, change, jewelry.

Anyway, I marked the quizzes as they handed them in, and one student was completely befuddled that he got "poetry" wrong - he had marked it as count when it is actually non-count. A different student was still working on the quiz, so this confused student and I had a hushed conversation about why he was wrong. The conversation just wasn't going anywhere - he couldn't seem to grasp how "poetry" could not take on "a poetry" and "poetries."

Finally, after class when all the quizzes were collected and we could speak in normal tones, I realized all at once that he had been saying b instead of p (and in his British accent) and thought the word was "battery." Which IS a count noun. Anyway, we had a good laugh and it was a relief to know that he wasn't so baffled after all. Just confused about p and b.

3 comments:

Sherwood family said...

My favorite mix-up from Egypt was the then-Secretary of State, "Colon Bowel." Still makes me laugh.

jaraad said...

Arabs in the USA usually tell this joke when the 'P' and 'b' is discussed.
"An Arab goes to USA for the first time, at the airport he gets a rent a car and goes on a drive to the Mall. When he gets to the mall's parking area, he see's an officer and talks to him in an Arabic accent:
Arab: Can I bark here?
Officer: USA is a free country, u can bark wherever u want."

Bridget said...

Oh, that is awful for CP.

Jaraad, I remember that joke well. It's a good one.

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