Friday, January 14, 2011

What About Me?

You know those times when you should be happy for someone, but their success really just makes you feel bad about yourself? For example, you should be happy for your friend when she gets a promotion, but the truth is that it just makes you mad that you didn't get one. Or you should be happy for your best friend when she tells you that her new boyfriend is whisking her off to Paris, but instead it just makes you glare at your husband.

"What's wrong, Honey?"

Well, today, I was grading and the first sentence I read was:

The store displayed their obsequious range of holiday decorations.

An English teacher should be thrilled when her student uses such a beautiful and sophisticated word, right?

Well, not when the student out-vocabularies the teacher. I had never even seen the word obsequious before, and, what can I say, it made me feel a little inadequate.

So, you know how it shouldn’t make you happy when your friend complains that she's exhausted and has no social life because the new promotion requires her to stay at the office until 10pm every night. And it definitely should not make you happy when your best friend tells you that she spent her Paris vacation in bed due to a bad batch of escargot.

Well, what can I say; I was kind of relieved when I looked up obsequious only to discover that my student had misused it.

When I looked it up, this is what I found:

characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning: an obsequious bow.
servilely compliant or deferential: obsequious servants.
obedient; dutiful.

Surely, she didn't mean to convey that the range of holiday decorations was obedient or servile.

I hope you don't think I am being opprobrious when I say that my student was simply not exhibiting perspicacious judgement in her quest to be a sesquipedalian.


The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

Well, I for one, didn’t think you were being in the least bit opprobrious. Or, at least, I don’t think that’s what I thought.

Hannah Kincade said...

LOL! This happens often but I always remind myself, life is not a race.

MartyrMom said...

Your Obsequious reminded me of a poem I wrote back in my early 20's. My love for O words brought it on...check out my sight..I'll post it.

James Garcia Jr said...

Wow! That's all I've got: Wow! I love your posts because I immediately grab my teacher-wife and show her what you've posted.
Take care,


Anonymous said...

What could your student possibly have been trying to say with that word? I have no idea.
And I have no idea what the other words in your sentence are but I'm guessing that if I said I was a 'sesquipedalian' that would be a good thing right? - G

Christopher said...

Maybe he has a word of the day calendar?

Gorilla Bananas said...

"Obsequious" is a word I occasionally use as an insult, so I grinned to see it applied to holiday decorations. "Obsequious toad" makes better use of it.

j.m. neeb said...

Is that last sentence in English?? :)

Rachael said...

AH! I had students who did stuff like this all the time because they used the thesaurus feature in MS Word. I had to explain that the computer didn't know how they were using the word and that the synonyms it suggested often didn't have even close to the same meaning. One student even confessed that he did this all the time "to sound smarter."

Carolyn Abiad said...

Lol! At least you're honest! :)

Scott Westerfield has a "perspicacious loris" in Behemoth . Can't tell you how many times I had to pause when I was reading that word! Had to check my spelling here three times...

Anonymous said...

"Still crazy after all these years!" :-) You are a true talent and a riot!

Jennifer @ Pen and Prosper Blog

WalksLikeAnEgyptian said...

Your last sentence made me cachinnate as the phrase "daaaaamn, Gina" came to mind.

Kelly said...

Ha! My sixth grader was in the spelling bee this week. I counted about eight words that I had not even heard of....and the kids spelled them correctly. Amazing!
My poor guy got sashay wrong. He spelled it the other sachet.

Meg O. said...

Haha! It's unfortunate that the big word can't be used correctly.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Catching up on your blog and laughing my head off. I especially like the one about doing MG a favor by sending him to WY. I gave you an award on my blog today. Cheers!

Amie Kaufman said...

Still trying to work out what she meant instead of obsequious!(Which I can define, but had to check how to spell...)

Theresa Milstein said...

Ha! Maybe she meant ostentatious. Maybe not.

Did you write this on her paper?

"I hope you don't think I am being opprobrious when I say that you were simply not exhibiting perspicacious judgement in your quest to be a sesquipedalian."