Monday, May 17, 2004

Tomaaato vs. Tomahto

For several months now, I've been teaching Incompetent Colleague's morning class on Fridays. I frequently find that he's explained a bit of grammar wrong and give the students the correct information. However, something floored me last Friday.


One of the girls said the word 'advertisement' with the American stress and another corrected her by saying, 'Don't forget, IC said that was wrong. You have to say it like this,' and pronounced it with the British stress. I probed a bit. It came to light that whenever they say something using the American version of it (tomaaato), IC tells them that their pronunciation is wrong, and 'corrects' them (tomahto). He does the same with spelling (advertise vs. advertize). One of the girls said that IC has said that to him, 'American English sounds dirty and low-class.'


I always tell my students the British/American differences when they pop up, and have assured them that either is acceptable, as long as they don't mix the two (according to Cambridge guidelines).

What kind of teacher would actually tell students that they were wrong, when they weren't, and take points off of their exams and essays due to his personal agenda?