The Day My University of Kansas English Professors Turned Over In Their Graves


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January 14th 2008
Published: January 14th 2008
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The Actual School that offered me a job teaching English.
The Day My University of Kansas English Professors Turned Over In Their Graves

It was January 9th, 2008 and I am back in Cần Thơ up to my eyeballs in library troubles when the strangest thing happened. I was offered a job as an English Teacher. 15.00 dollars a class and I could have as many classes as I want. Want to go home first, just sign a one year contract and they will fly you round trip free.

Here in Việt Nam they don’t have a clue about my English background. The truth is, English is not my native tongue. My native tongue is Sanfordese. Named after the country I grew up in those first 10 years of impressionable learning. If you grew up around Sanford Kansas USA you spoke Sanfordese. It is not a local dialect. You find Sanfordese spoken all through the Midwest. Especially in that great State of Oklahoma.
We had a Kansas Governor who spoke Sanfordese. He was from Atwood KS and his name is Mike Hayden. He is a graduate of Kansas State University. He still spoke the same Sanfordese when he left as when he started. I guess they didn’t have any
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The guy that tried to hire me is on the left. The other two are English Teachers.
English teachers at Kansas State.

At the University of Kansas, it was a different matter. They were not about to let anyone out of that place speaking Sanfordese. They herded all of us Sanfordese people into what they called “Bone Head English.” The normal English speaking students went to class three hours a week. We went five for three hours credit. I believe we were part of the foreign language department..

We probably were not smart enough to be humiliated, but they tried. Every time we would say wersh instead of wash or terr for tour they would scream and holler. If we kept passing their English classes they had one more hope of keeping us from the intellectual main stream. The English Proficiency Test. Everyone at KU had to pass it to get a diploma. You could have straight “As” and you will not graduate without it.

I got better at English when I started going with Linda. I pinned her, my grades improved. I got engaged, my grades improved. I married her and passed the English Proficiency Test.

Somehow I fooled KU and got through. But not Linda. For 45 years it has been constant schooling, poking fun and laughing at me. When I occasionally slip into Sanfordese and say something like: I’ve got to go, I have buzness in town, she freaks out. I put up with her lectures because I love her but coming here on a six month break was appealing. So, what did I do, I enrolled in Vietnamese classes. I have a real problem with listening to Vietnamese. When they start speaking, the first word I hear I have to translate into English, then Sanfordese. It is too much for my brain, when I get through with all that translation, they have spoken 15 more words.

Getting a job offer was a great morale booster. I was all puffed up, especially how the headmaster told me how I had perfect diction, the right accent and so on. I had to turn him down though as I am committed to going back to Hanoi and trying to learn the impossible, Vietnamese.

I have been invited to numerous English Classes in Saigon and here in Cantho. There I just talk to the students and we discuss problems with each language and how is the best way to learn. I know the best way, when your three years old. Sanfordese comes easy. I
get to poke a little fun at them too. Most Vietnamese pronounce “about,’ abowa. Even Professor Trung after giving his class the business for saying abowa, 10 seconds later he said it. At Thien An Orphanage I got to teach an English Class. They were all between six and 10 and what an upper that was. They responded with such enthusiasm. Just like me back at KU.



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This is just a little one room private school. Notice the library that it has.


14th January 2008

speaking of Graves...
I chuckled all through your account of Sanfordese and a job offer to boot. There is hope for us all.
22nd January 2008

Hi Kent!
I loved this entry! Very funny :) I find I'm slipping into Sanfordese more and more these days
23rd January 2008

Wersh
I'm behind on reading some of your blogs and just found the one about Sandfordese. Jim and I grew up saying wersh instead of wash. Since we both knew it was wrong, we made a definite goal to correct ourselves before we had children. We all say wash now, but it brought back some funny memories.
23rd January 2008

Your best e-mail yet...
Hi Kent, This was your best written e-mail yet. You may not get a job in the US as an English teacher, but you may be able to get one as a comical journalist. I did not know that Sanfordese was the name of the SW Kansas dialect. My speech instructor at Fort Hays, Miss Ketchum, ( no pun intended of her last name) was death on those students. However, she referred to those certain words as Kansas-isms...warsh for wash, whirr for where, jist for just. I think it was her life's work to break those students of their Kansas-isms or else flunk them. Pity the poor Ellis County Volga-German kids...they had a low German accent on top of their Kansas-isms! It was a great class. Cousin Carole

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