Photo: Sunset, A-Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

For Wednesday’s vocabulary building task, seven students used the word “lame” to fill in the first blank requesting an adjective. Did they not like her assignment?

She scanned their papers for other clues to test the temperature of the class. Did they scribble “teacher” for the next noun? When one boy offered “ugly” did he mean to describe her tired hair and brown sandals? Was the prerequisite to this course a practicum on hints, slights, and, when necessary, insults?

Did they rehearse their responses? Had they been trying to tell her this for weeks? And had they already learned she’d understand their message best through writing?

*Almost every year I receive a Word-A-Day calendar. I look at each word I am delivered as a sort of fortune or horoscope for the day. I try to see what is promised with each noun, what is predicted by the verbs. This piece came from the word Charientism: a gracefully veiled insult, and my wonder for what gracefully veiled might look like from developmental writers practicing vocabulary. And, what if the speaker starts seeing insults nearly everywhere?

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