Ship or Sheep or Disgust?

I’m preparing the audio files for our Phonetics labs at home, and I’ve been listening to the units in our book, Ship or Sheep?, written by two Brits about 25 years ago. I got to Unit 4 on the [æ] vowel sound and noticed the dialogue they had written using as many words as possible with this sound. The title is “A Bad Hijacker.” Oh boy.

Even before 9/11, I think I would have been very sensitive about this, so I don’t think it’s just because I’m American or what happened 7 years ago. You just don’t write fake dialogues about planes blowing up! Surely there are plenty of other topics you can talk about using words with the [æ] vowel. Who would find it appropriate to talk about a fat lady with a handbag who turns out to be a hijacker on a flight to Amsterdam? And then end the dialogue with a huge explosion as if it were real? Even the book has a little drawing of the plane exploding with the word BANG written across it. ::sigh::

I was liking this book because of their adorable, stereotypical British accents that no one actually speaks with… and then they had to ruin it. I honestly feel a little sick now.

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  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com/ Sally

    Oh I remember that book! (From my days of teaching English in France a few years ago). I always thought that an exercise on shit vs. sheet as well as ship vs. sheep would liven things up a little :-)

    Yes, I agree it’s pretty bad taste to use a dialogue about hijackers/ planes blowing up – I’m sure there are other subjects they could have written about instead.

    I can’t remember the addents in the book but I can imagine! ha ha

    Sallys last blog post..Rude freecycler

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com Sally

    Oh I remember that book! (From my days of teaching English in France a few years ago). I always thought that an exercise on shit vs. sheet as well as ship vs. sheep would liven things up a little :-)

    Yes, I agree it’s pretty bad taste to use a dialogue about hijackers/ planes blowing up – I’m sure there are other subjects they could have written about instead.

    I can’t remember the addents in the book but I can imagine! ha ha

    Sallys last blog post..Rude freecycler

  • http://updatesfromsusan.blogspot.com/ Susan in Lille

    I shake my head in disdain. But I am having trouble trying not to laugh at it! That is just horrible. Really, I don’t think they could make it less offensive. I guess they could have made her a divorcee (or old maid), mentally handicapped in a wheelchair. Man…they just attack all the stereotypes in that little lesson!
    Hope you find some lessons you like! Bon courage!

    Susan in Lilles last blog post..3rd Race at the Honeymoon-Is-Over Downs

  • http://updatesfromsusan.blogspot.com Susan in Lille

    I shake my head in disdain. But I am having trouble trying not to laugh at it! That is just horrible. Really, I don’t think they could make it less offensive. I guess they could have made her a divorcee (or old maid), mentally handicapped in a wheelchair. Man…they just attack all the stereotypes in that little lesson!
    Hope you find some lessons you like! Bon courage!

    Susan in Lilles last blog post..3rd Race at the Honeymoon-Is-Over Downs

  • Russell

    I must preface my comments by divulging the fact that I have not read or heard the piece that you refer to in your post.

    Whilst I absolutely agree with your points about the sensitivities that we would observe today regarding the subjects of plane hijackings and references to peoples’ appearences etc. I would offer one or two points in the defence of the authors of the piece. If it was written some twenty five years ago, that would put it at a time when aircraft hijacking was a worryingly common ocurrence in the world. During the seventies and eighties there were plenty of groups that felt that the publicity that they received from such an attempt was worth more than gold for their causes and therefore it was the direct action of choice at the time. Just observing the list of signifcant aircraft hijackings on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_notable_aircraft_hijackings) shows that it was quite common given the drastic nature of the crime. Indeed, the increase during that time was really the start of modern airport security that we know and hate today.

    So, although it is in bad taste to use the subject matter in the way that they did, the authors were just being very topical in the same way that if we were to rewrite the scrpit today we might choose subjects such as Global Warming or Financial Crises which are just as emotive to some people.

  • Russell

    I must preface my comments by divulging the fact that I have not read or heard the piece that you refer to in your post.

    Whilst I absolutely agree with your points about the sensitivities that we would observe today regarding the subjects of plane hijackings and references to peoples’ appearences etc. I would offer one or two points in the defence of the authors of the piece. If it was written some twenty five years ago, that would put it at a time when aircraft hijacking was a worryingly common ocurrence in the world. During the seventies and eighties there were plenty of groups that felt that the publicity that they received from such an attempt was worth more than gold for their causes and therefore it was the direct action of choice at the time. Just observing the list of signifcant aircraft hijackings on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_notable_aircraft_hijackings) shows that it was quite common given the drastic nature of the crime. Indeed, the increase during that time was really the start of modern airport security that we know and hate today.

    So, although it is in bad taste to use the subject matter in the way that they did, the authors were just being very topical in the same way that if we were to rewrite the scrpit today we might choose subjects such as Global Warming or Financial Crises which are just as emotive to some people.

  • http://pensees-en-franglais.blogspot.com/ joy

    oh my god! Sick.

    My Oxford Practice English manual uses a nasty story about an elderly couple burning to death in their home, right on the first page. To demonstrate the Past Simple. What’s with the Brits?

  • http://pensees-en-franglais.blogspot.com joy

    oh my god! Sick.

    My Oxford Practice English manual uses a nasty story about an elderly couple burning to death in their home, right on the first page. To demonstrate the Past Simple. What’s with the Brits?

  • Anon

    Dear Joy

    Whats with the Brits is that they know how to spell and speak English properly!! Go figuuuure!

  • http://None Anon

    Dear Joy

    Whats with the Brits is that they know how to spell and speak English properly!! Go figuuuure!

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    @Anon: There is no “proper” form of a language, you linguistic snob. British English is no better than American English or any other dialect of English. Please do not leave ethnocentric comments here.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    @Anon: There is no “proper” form of a language, you linguistic snob. British English is no better than American English or any other dialect of English. Please do not leave ethnocentric comments here.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    Er… that’s weird.

    We have so really old books we sometimes use in class for our students (just the basic grammar and phonetic) and some of the dialogs are far from being politically correct. I find them very paternalistic…

    Yet, nothing like that.

    Zhus last blog post..How To Survive Your First Year In Canada (8/10)

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    Er… that’s weird.

    We have so really old books we sometimes use in class for our students (just the basic grammar and phonetic) and some of the dialogs are far from being politically correct. I find them very paternalistic…

    Yet, nothing like that.

    Zhus last blog post..How To Survive Your First Year In Canada (8/10)

  • http://pensees-en-franglais.blogspot.com/ joy

    Anyway Anon, you missed your apostrophe. I guess the Brits don’t know a tongue in cheek comment *or* proper punctuation. Oooh, snap.

    lol

  • http://pensees-en-franglais.blogspot.com joy

    Anyway Anon, you missed your apostrophe. I guess the Brits don’t know a tongue in cheek comment *or* proper punctuation. Oooh, snap.

    lol

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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