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Mutiny at SEA
LAST WEEK, the adult fates of 18,000 children were settled in one morning by the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination. In sympathy with those little ones who will grow up to find that the only way they can put their hands on a BMW or an Audi is to wash it for someone else, I began my own Sixties Entrance Exam last Friday, with the maths section of the last Newsday practice test. Today, I tackle the “Language Arts” in the hope that I have some; apparently, we do “Language Arts” and not “English” because we learn English as a second language, after “obscene”, “gutter”, “slang” and “we doesn’t give a firetruck, boy, haul yuh mama and yuh grammar.”
Language Arts. Section I. Grammar Skills.
A. Insert the plural form of the nouns in brackets: Q1a. Gerard has four (cactus) that bloom beautiful flowers. The already slim chance of entering a “prestige” school leaves town for the majority who never heard of “cacti”; anyone who answered “cactuses” might as well have put “firetrucked-us”. Q1b. I received the bunch of (key) to open the shop the next day. Well, what firetrucking use is that? The shop should have opened yesterday! You begin to see why Caribbean people have a problem with running businesses. B. Insert a suitable collective noun: Q5. The ____ of directors decided to reward the employee’s hard work. This must be the “unicorn or lagahoo or some other myth” of directors because Trinidadian boards only work hard to figure out how to pay employees next-to-nothing, so they can afford more first-class, five-star holidays for directors disguised as board business. C. Rewrite in the active voice. Q8. A large sum of money was stolen by the thief during the robbery. The Language Art might be okay but legal knowledge is lacking: taking the money is the robbery, it doesn’t happen during it; in any case, the real answer is, “the regular Thursday Cabinet meeting”. Q9. D. Choose the correct word. Q11. The policeman and the witnesses (is, are) still at the station. This is not Language Arts, but Language Fantasy: no witness to any criminality in Trinidad (outside Cabinet meetings, i.e.) would go to a police station, to let the gangs know they intend to give evidence and, ergo, are due to be passed out potow-pow-matter fixed, case dropped. E. Replace the underlined contraction with its expanded form. Q14. “Where’d you hide the jewellery?” asked the bandit roughly. Not a very languagedly-artful bandit; you’d think he’d want to know where they hid the jewellery exactly. F. Insert the correct conjunction. Q16. When/Although Michael didn’t win the race, he was overjoyed for [sic] overcoming his fear of competition). You could make a grammatical case for either but the real lesson is Michael will grow up to be a general election candidate for the ONR, the COP or the PEP. G. Rewrite as reported speech. Q17. Nicola asked, “Patrice, have you seen the dentist?” Three different answers, depending on location. In Westmoorings, it would be, “Nicola asked Patrice if the dentist had completed the insurance claim form.” In Chaguanas: “Nicola asked Patrice if the quack used his pliers or just gave her panadol.” In Morvant/Barrackpore: “Nicola told Patrice to shut up about her toothache or she would get something to cry ‘bout.”
Section II Vocabulary/ Spelling/ Punctuation. A. Write a word similar in meaning to the underlined word. Q 23. The schoolboy was praised for lending assistance to the elderly man. Again, three answers: in Westmoorings, he would lend two or more sistances, because they have plenty of everything, including sistance; in Chaguanas, he would lend “a five dullers” because things tight, but it’s an old man; and, in Morvant, he would lend a weighty Bible verse or a loaded firearm . B. Write the correct form of the word in capitals. Q 26. PROPOSE; Mr Griffith had a _______ to boost the company’s profit. Again, three answers: in Westmoorings, Mr Griffith would have a “reluctance” to boost profits and pay more tax when he could skim it off for a family holiday in Disneyworld that appears, on the books, as a trade show; in Chaguanas, especially if he was a farmer, he would have a “flood” to boost profits via fraudulent insurance claims; in Morvant, he would have a more straightforward “skulls” to get state money paid to him for non-existent work or supplies. Q27. RELATION; I value my _______ with my sister. This must be an SEA question from a trailer park in the American Bible Belt. C. Choose the correct word. Q29. My uncle had to (toe/tow) our vehicle when it stalled. A trick question: the answer is neither toe nor tow. The reality for everyone who can’t afford private road assistance services is that Uncle had to thumb a firetrucking drop! D. Insert TWO punctuation marks in each sentence. Q31. Kavitas sick today and has stayed home with her sister Sumitra. Poor Kavitas; I hope she’s better now. Q33. “How did you do that Sasha asked the magician in amazement. A magician who has to ask Sasha how she did that is being wasted: he should be Minister of Works, to ask ferries how they sail; unless he’s also innumerate and could be Minister of Finance; if he’s also autocratic by nature, he should be prime minister. That’s enough Language Arts to get me back into Standard Five for the SEA again next year.
BC Pires is not a door when he is ajar. Email your hypercorrections to him at bc@BCPires.com