A Room Full of Monkeys

As a European country, one would be easily inclined to imagine that Spain is a fashion saavy, super-hip, designer hub, like most of its continental neighbors. There is admittedly some truth to this statement, though it must be understood within the context of two extremes; generally speaking, Spanish clothes either lean towards the exessively ostentatious on one side of the fashion spectrum (for men this means desperately metrosexual, and for women, outlandish and aloof), and on the other side towards just plain frumpiness. As obnoxious as the former style can be, we can at least rationalize it. Social standards, especially in cities, alientate those who do not comply with a certain aesthetic, resulting in capitals like Madrid and Barcelona filled with twenty- and thirtysomethings who dress every day like they are going to a posh club. The last time I checked, the metro does not have cocktails and a DJ at 10:00 am on a Tuesday.

The presistence of frump, on the other hand, seems far more enigmatic.  In fact, ever since last year I´ve been specifically baffled by one particular trend: meaningless and grammatically incorrect English phrases on shirts. Everybody has one, and I just can´t figure out why these exist. They say that a room full of monkeys with typewriters would eventually produce a work of Shakespeare. Everything else that comes out of that room inevitably winds up on a t-shirt in Spain. There is no other explanation for most instances of this corruption of the English language (perhaps we could call this ¨Moxford English?¨)

A couple weeks ago, a 4th-grader came into school with a softball-style long sleeve shirt, which read, in a haphazard array of type sizes and fonts:





  Eajoy Bceedom

I´d really like to imagine that this shirt is the product of the smartest monkey in the room, because isn´t that an adorable notion? And if nothing else, it would mean that it is not, as I fear it to be, the result of ignorance and lack of taste. (The other, far less likely option, is that this girl plays center field for the Erika Dance Sports Company.) The ¨artlessness¨ is of course the ironic self-referential declaration which confuses and impresses so much that it would be amazing if it weren´t being worn by a 10 year-old who does not speak English nor understands the concept of irony. At least this shirt tries, though, as opposed to the several students who have bootleg shirts of the movie The Incredibles, spelled ¨Teh Incredibhls.¨ And believe me, this is just the tip of the iceburg.

It is obviously a frustrating matter for an English teacher to witness such flagrant disregard for the language that I am trying to help them learn.  If just five of these kids grow up to speak well enough to even recognize the errors on these shirts, that will be an accomplishment. But I can´t worry about this too much. At the end of the day, I just have to laugh at the absurdity, shrug my shoulders in resignation, and let these kids eajoy their bceedom.


~ by lincolnbrody on December 9, 2008.

One Response to “A Room Full of Monkeys”

  1. My heaven!

    It’s better to have the monkeys in a heap though.

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