Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Consciously Choosing our Words

I meet my adult ESL students in a coffee shop. For our first meeting, I send an email with the address and detailed directions to the coffee shop. I also send a brief description of myself.

I used to say that I had "light olive" skin. This is a typical expression used in the U.S. to describe someone with "light brown" skin. It's such a typical expression that I never gave it a second thought, until one day...

I met a new ESL student and he told me that he wondered what I would look like because he had no idea what "olive skin" would be like. I've changed the wording of my physical description in my intro email!

It just served to remind me that no matter how conscious I am of the English language and all it's aspects, there are some parts of our language that are so internalized that we don't even give them a second thought.

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