“Is this right?“ Deep within the recesses of my mind, these simple three words radiate into my consciousness.
“What err agh?” is my slow response. Then, through the clearing fog of sleep deprivation realisation strikes me like a hammer slamming on an anvil, I’m married to an English Teacher!!
Ok, ok a little dramatic I admit, but when you share a life with someone who lives and breathes English teaching, spontaneous discussion on the subtle nuances of the English language is never far below the surface.
My wife teaches English in a Malaysian high school. She is a local and English is her 3rd language. Because I’m a native speaker, I am often relied upon for advice to help correct any difficulties that arise in the spoken and written language that crop up from time to time.
I am capable in the language, but nowhere near and an expert. In fact, when it comes to editing my own work I’m what you could call, copy blind. I can read a sentence I have written numerous times and still not pick up an obvious mistake. My wife is much better at it. Where I do have an advantage is in conceptualising where upon my writing relies on knowledge gained through a life time of experiences and extensive reading. This has help galvanised my thoughts into a reasonable coherent way when it comes to expressing myself on paper. (You might want to disagree after reading this)
My wife, however, is the technician; much more structured and defined in content than I. She is more constrained in general usage whilst I, on the other hand, tend to be uninhibited. In other words, her style is adept for teaching the mechanics whilst mine is better in expressing fresh ideas in free form. ( Code for crappy in Grammar)
That was a little long-winded in explanation, but in essence, we compliment each other well when it comes to doing a project together. But and it’s a big BUT.
I don’t live and breathe it like she does. So come midnight when I am in la la land and those dreaded words drift over into my dream state, I tend to get grumpy. I’m naturally grumpy and as old age approaches, it isn’t getting better.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression I don’t co-operate with the request. I do, but I do it under duress. The way my mind works is that I can’t contemplate anything by just listening to the words. I have to read what is being said. Needless to say, I have to drag myself over to the desk to help. After much toing and froing, we come to some sort of consensus. I go back to bed, re-enter la la land until once again the spell is broken with those most damning of all words.
“Is this right?”