Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gender Specific Terms For Barnyard Fowl

Recently, I bought a few new posters for my classroom.  Three posters in a series.  One on “wild animals,” one on “marine animals” and one on “domestic animals.”  I was very happy with them.
For a couple of days.
Then I looked a bit more closely at one of the posters.  There was a four-legged, hard-shelled reptile which despite my best intentions was labeled “terrapin.”  Now, this is not really a problem, since in reality one name for a turtle is “terrapin.”  However, when you’re teaching ESL to eight-year-olds, terrapin is just plain confusing.
Imagine the guy who was designing this poster.  He’s already gone through generally labelling a dozen animals “horse” “cow” “cat” and then he got to to dog and thought to himself that it would probably be best to get specific, typing out “collie.”  Well, here we have the same scenario, only involving turtles.
Then I noticed the biggie.
Maybe it’s the Brits, but someone out there is still using the term “cock” to refer to roosters and it’s just plain wrong.
So, I decided this heinous error needed to be remedied.  I wasn’t going to teach for the rest of my career, having to explain why students shouldn’t use the word “cock” in casual conversation.
Judging the approximate font size and type-face, I printed out new labels for these poor misrepresented animals.
“Turtle”       &      “Rooster”
It was only after cutting them to size and gluing them onto the poster that I realized that I probably shouldn’t have used the term “rooster,” because it’s not that often that I actually teach the gender specific terminology for barnyard fowl.  “Chicken” would be a better blanket statement to use, sitting right next door to a lovely general “duck.”  So, I printed a new label and pasted that over the old new label.
“Turtle”      &      “Chicken”
And as I stood back, triumphantly admiring my work my eyes glanced slightly to the right of the aforementioned duck and came to rest on the appropriately labeled “hen.”
I’m a freaking idiot.

***This post is a re-blog. It was originally posted 2 years ago, and has been edited slightly. The original post can be found here.

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