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English Spoken Here?

To Whomever Can Get Things Done Around Here:

It has often been brought to my attention that students of foreign languages (especially undergraduate majors and graduate students), because of their concentration of foreign language and literature courses to the virtual exclusion of English courses, are unable to handle the English language too good.

Consequently, I propose that there be organized an English Table for foreign language students.  Participants will be encouraged to raise their use of English to higher levels of precision and grace.  At the same time, no effort will be spared to eradicate from their conversation such foreign phrases as sapristi, claro, détente, and cosa nostra.  Also, such un-American forms of body languages as shrugs, winks, the evil eye, extravagant gesticulations, and “fica” signs will be noted and reproved.

If the proposed English Table excites the popularity it deserves, one might ask Vice-Provost McFate to set up a floor in one of the residences for this purpose.  Students would take an oath to speak nothing but English.  This along with immersion in texts and recordings of Shaw, Wilde, Coward, and Kissinger, and the presence of administrators and faculty members known for their felicitous use of English should serve to elevate the English-speaking skills of our language students to a genuinely classy status.  Students might well alternate between the language floor and this proposed English floor every other semester. A full year’s residence probably should be required after the junior year abroad.

I need not point out that this would be, for once, a real unique innovation, suitable for inclusion in press releases and the reports of the Central Administration, and would serve to place Penn in the forefront of the institutions with whom we like to compare ourself, n’est-ce pas?           

Clifton Cherpack, Professor of Romance Languages

 

Originally published in Almanac May 25, 1976

 

 



 

Cherpack Letters Index:

 

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