Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fragments...The Welsh and a Prenuptial Student

So, the horrors of grading have started in this neck of the woods. At this time of a semester, minor amusements gain large value. Today, I was happy to be able to supply one of these.

For reasons which are too involved, complicated, technical and boring to discuss here, from time to time I receive e-mail about e-mail messages which did not get to where they were supposed to go. These e-mails are so-called 'Mail Delivery Errors'. Today I got one of these. This one was unusual though. It was in Welsh! Now, Welsh is not exactly a common language. Mail Delivery Errors are generated by software and are not exactly exciting fare. However, it was rather curious to see one in this language. I checked in with our main systems guy. He confirmed that he has seen a few (million) Mail Delivery Errors in his time, but never one in such an unusual language.

This circumstance prompted me to send e-mail to a contact who happens to live in Wales. He tells me that under The Welsh Language Act, Welsh and English have equal status in Wales. Thus, everything, right down to the labels on garbage bags, have to be written in both languages. He also suggested that this was a great job creation program for Welsh speakers. Well, I say good luck to the Welsh! I wish other speakers of minority languages were able to preserve their linguistic skills in such practical ways.

As is typical during grading season, there are always a few papers that come in late. When I got to the office this morning, there was a paper that had been pushed under my office door. The paper was from one of our majors, a smart and quite interesting character. Attached to the paper was an envelope. When I opened the envelope, I discovered an invitation to the students' wedding. This happens from time to time and I feel it to be something of an honor. However, also included with the wedding invitation was a brief note. It was sufficiently amusing that I will reproduce the text here:

[Combat Philosopher],
You were my favorite professor. You were simultaneously the smartest and biggest bastard of them all! I really enjoyed working with you over the years, and I will always keep in touch. Later, [Prenuptial Student]

Getting a note like this once in a while makes all the horrors of the grading season seem worth while. It is really nice to know that my efforts are appreciated. What is especially exceptional in this case is that this is not your typically sycophantic student. This guy is pretty tough (you should see the tattoos). It is really nice though. I guess expecting and enforcing high academic standards is actually appreciated. I know that the student knows of this blog. So, if you are reading, 'Thanks'!

Now back to the scary work of reading accounts of great philosophers, mangled through the lens of Red Bull powered frat boys...

The CP


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