Garner, MO (TWP)
Teachers, staff, and students at GarnerMiddle School have created a new language of sorts, one worthy of research and further study. Noted etymologist Dr. Rand Lichtenstein of Harvard has recently published his research on the language in the April issue of the Modern Language Review.
Lichtenstein studied the school over an eight-week period, after it had come to light that outside members of the public and parents were unable to communicate effectively with those associated with the school. “What I found was an ingenuous code these people had developed in order to survive in the educational environment that has arisen around them,” Lichtenstein said.
Lichtenstein said he noticed the strange language as soon as he entered the building and said “Hello” to the student aide on duty at the front desk.
The student responded by asking,
“Do you wish to
- A. speak to a counselor
- B. check out a child
- C. request a transcript
- D. scorn a teacher?”
Lichtenstein laughed and asked, “What have you done with the None of the Above option?” While waiting for the student to laugh in return and then begin a normal conversation, Lichtenstein grew wary. He told TWP, “It was as if she did not understand what I was saying at all.”
Lichtenstein said he immediately tried an experiment. He asked another open-ended question: “What kind of school do you have here?” Again, no response. He asked, “What educational activities are emphasized here? Again, no response. The girl chewed a piece of gum and looked blankly at a point above Lichtenstein’s head.
Then the doctor said, “This school looks like an exceptional place.” The girl tilted her head and replied, “A = True. B = False. Circle the correct option. I circle B.”
Aided in his research by retired English teacher Nanette Eagleton, Lichtenstein searched for the language’s cognates in other languages and an origin or transmission of the language. Eagleton, told TWP that she made the decision to retire during 3rd hour freshman English one day, when she was reviewing questions in a state test prep booklet and found this one about William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow”:
So much depends upon the red wheelbarrow in Williams’ poem because it is
- A. important
- B. metal
- C. dependable
- D. necessary
“I read that question aloud to the class and just couldn’t take it anymore. I had begun finding myself ending everything I said with ABCD answers and True-Falseing any statement made to me. When I asked my husband one night if he wanted A. a shower, B. oral sex, C. a back rub or D. to be left alone, I heard what I was saying and knew I had to quit. I immediately ran to my files to find my retirement papers, with B-B-B ringing in my ears.”
Lichtenstein said that more studies would need to be done on the language to fully understand its intent and repercussions in modern life. He did note that while he was studying Garner Middle Schools, he received calls about at least twenty-eight other schools in the country experiencing the same acquisition of a specialized language of educational survival.
“The language itself,” Lichtenstein noted, “does not have much linguistic value. It is the effect of its usage over time that remains to be seen—and of which, we should all be very, very concerned. Do you not agree? A = True. B = False.”