I’m having a bad week at school – reverting to those obnoxious, tangential asides that make me hate myself almost as much as the poor students sharing class time and space with me.
Just yesterday, i interjected an answer to a question directed at another student, went on a three minute rant about the Crusades that contributed nothing to the class discussion and… horribly… lectured about English compound tense formation in my undergraduate Italian class. I need to stop wasting my breathe and other people’s time. I need to self-censor.
Just once, i would like to NOT become a blabbering know-it-all when the different uses of the imperfect and perfect tenses comes up in a language class that is not Latin.
Years of French classes that failed to teach the concepts, piles of tests with failing grades and a chorus of condescending teachers expounding “it will come with practice” as an explanation cause my blood to reach the slow simmer that dissolves cartilage when making chicken stock.
My hand inevitably darts up and i feel the need to talk about gerunds, verbal nouns, compound tenses and active present participles. Why oh why do professors and teachers alike feel that a fruitful beginning to this discussion is a list of when you use one tense and when the other? What in God’s name does an “action completed in the past” mean? Are not all actions governed by the past tense completed? What is an uncompleted action? URGH!
Would it not be simpler to provide the INCREDIBLY SIMPLE direct correspondence between the imperfect tense and English constructions using “i used to…”, “i began to”, and “i was [verb ending in ‘ing’ here].”? Could someone please teach the French-as-a-second language teachers in the English school system in Quebec this rule? The last thing i needed was ANOTHER situation that instantly turns me into a raving lunatic.
Our Latin professor gave a revelatory lecture the other day on the evolution of tenses… i now have more ammunition with which to make everyone’s life a misery.
If i were another student in my Italian class, i would hate me too — and that is a HORRIBLE realization.