Monday, February 28, 2005

It came from the marking pile...

In Distilled Prose last week, my students were given a two-part in-class assignment. In pairs, they were to write a complaint letter on the subject of their choosing. Each pair then received another pair's complaint letter to respond to. The pairs had 30 minutes to complete each component of the assignment.

This one was at the bottom of the pile...

Dear Ms V———:

Your name is too hard to spell. For the convenience of the class members (many of whom, despite being in professional writing, can't write) please eliminate at least two, if not upwards of four letters from your surname. We suggest ditching everything but Erm or Eer.

Think of the advantages: Your name would no longer be called last; your car registration renewal date would change, possibly to a much better and convenient time. And those annoying syllables? Think of the time you would be saving yourself and others around you by cutting your name down to one syllable.

Another bit of ridiculousness that must come to an abrupt halt is your pretentious habit of capitalizing the first letter of "Leslie". Who do you think you are? We don't know who "lie" is, but your insistence of having "les" of her borders on the absurd. It's a self-indulgent number of L's anyway. Two? Honestly. eslie Erm just rolls off the tongue. eslie Erm. eslie Erm. It has a certain amount of quiet dignity, a certain intangible X-factor, a certain je ne sais quoi. Plus it's wickedly alliterative and it's completely unique. We don't think there are any other eslie Erm's on this earth. Even if there were, they wouldn't be as cool as you. Come to think of it, you'd have to be stupid NOT to change your name to eslie Erm.

To conclude, we truly believe that it would be beneficial for you to become known as "eslie Erm".

Sincerely yours,
Pair XY

On my behalf, Pair XX replied...

Dear Pair XY:

Thank you for your letter. While creative and comical, it is completely unjustified. As a full-time professor of the PROFESSIONAL Writing Program, it is my duty to weed out the weakest links. The fact that you can't grasp the spelling of my name goes against every inch of my writer's being. It's spelled just like it sounds.

However, I will concede that others have had problems with the spelling. I also had problems learning how to spell it, but then again I was six.

Your suggestion that having a last name closer to the beginning of the alphabet is noted. However, sometimes they start at the end of the alphabet, in which case "V———" is very advantageous. Moreover, I was named after my great-great-great grandmother and the honour and tradition seem much more valuable than the few extra seconds I would save by changing my name.

As far as your "ridiculousness" goes, Leslie or Eslie is a proper noun, thereby requiring capitalization. You asked me who I thought I was. My answer is quite simple. I am L——— V——— and I prefer you call me that.

Once again thanks for your letter. It's so much easier to sustain the quality of graduates when the "slow" students find me. To learn the proper spelling of my name I suggest you look up my office hours.

L---- V------

So there!

1 comment:

Never for Ever said...

Um... erm... ehh ...


Whoo hoo!