11 April 2006
Today was my day to give a presentation about my Final project to my translation class. This in itself was not a big deal, because the project didn't have to be finished; the point was more to share our process with the class and get suggestions about things that were vexing us. However, I've had a lot of stress over the past few days because my term paper for Drama was due today, and as of yesterday morning I still hadn't gotten past the outline stage. So I came into my translation presentation at 2:00 in the afternoon, running on four hours' sleep, about a gallon of Mountain Dew, and no food all day. I was also a little concerned because Annoying Boy has apparently studied Old English at some point, and I knew there was at least a possibility that he would want to argue with me about something in my presentation. He did not disappoint. I started by giving some background information about Old English, because it is a dead language that most of the class hasn't studied. I got through all of two and a half points on my list before he objected. Oddly enough, the thing he wanted to quibble about was my assertion that “the majority of the vocabulary of Present-Day English comes from Latin through French.” I can only assume that his argument was a semantic one, because this is a fairly standard, if reductive, assessment of the origin of English vocabulary. As soon as I said it, though, he started shaking his head and waving his hand at me. I asked him to bear with me, because I was going to qualify this by pointing out that the majority of the most commonly-used words in PDE come from Old English, but he kept trying to interrupt.
I suppose an appropriate response at that point would have been, “My source is Professor X, who teaches History of the English Language. If you disagree, I'd be happy to put you in touch with him.” Unfortunately, he picked the wrong day to annoy me. My actual response was, “Would you like to be excused? Because I don't appreciate hecklers.” The thing is, if he disagreed with something I was saying, he could have asked me to clarify, or done any number of things to make his objection more courteous than his blunt “That's not right.” Is is too much to ask for courteous discussion in an academic setting?