The Task of Unlearning

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Our House

Many years ago while serving in the Air Force my wife and I lived off base in the West Indies. We rented a small house from Andrew, a school teacher whose second language was English. Over the span of the two years of, which he was our landlord, we became good friends. When he learned Barb and I played Scrabble he asked if he could join us in order to improve his English.

He visited us two or three evenings each week. One evening the game dragged on and on. Andrew was not willing to give up until he had used all his tiles.

A lengthy period of time crept by and suddenly he announced he had a word. He was sitting opposite from me making his word upside down for me. My tired eyes would not comprehend the word he’d spelled, so I asked him what it was.

“It’s eeeweee,” he said, dragging out the letter E.

“That’s not a word,” I said.

“Is too,” he countered, ” EWE is a female sheep.”

“Ewe is pronounced “U”, I argued.


After proving it to him with a dictionary he blushed. “For seven years I’ve been teaching my students wrong. Now they will have to unlearn it.”

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4 thoughts on “The Task of Unlearning

  1. Haha! My husband was a bookworm growing up while I was more of a social learner. I gained my vocabulary from interactions and he gained his in books. Today there are SO incredibly many words he says so far off from their actual pronunciations that they are unrecognizable. Most recently within this hour was circumference said instead cir-cume-fir-ans. it took me the context of the sentence to figure out what on earth he was trying to say. I used to try to correct him so he didn’t go out in the world saying these things this way…but it takes it so personally…so now I’ll just set him up to look like a fool when he is out and about.


    • Scott says:

      It seems to me you have a lot to say and the tools with which to get it said.

      My blog is simply a digital relief valve. I’ve been writing paper ones since 1964. Some of the, make more sense than others. But I always feel better. Thanks for reading mine.

      Liked by 1 person

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