Ineffable consolation from the mouths of babes

From a reader:

Dear Father Z.,

I am a ninth grade English teacher in a public school (out of 110 students, I have only 17 who are Catholic) who gives twenty vocabulary words to my students each week.  On Mondays they are given the words to define, identify their proper parts of speech, and use in a sentence.  On Wednesdays we review the definitions, parts of speech, and talk about their usage.  On Fridays they are quizzed over the words. 

This week one of our words was "ineffable," the definition of which is "unutterable or inexpressible."  Here are three examples of the sentences my students offered for the word "ineffable" as we reviewed its definition today in class:

"The ineffable beauty of the painting was awe-inspiring."
"The trip to Europe was an ineffable experience."
"The ineffable stillness of the lake made for a peaceful evening."

Having reviewed the word "ineffable" in each of my five classes today, not one student has expressed or exhibited any difficulties understanding the definition or usage of this word.  I suppose the real proof will be the results of Friday’s vocabulary quiz.  I’ll keep you posted.

How cruel to inflict on those poor children a word sooo haaard for even American Bishops to understand!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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13 Responses to Ineffable consolation from the mouths of babes

  1. RJSciurus says:

    Perhaps some middle school transcript reviews are in order.

  2. DarkKnight says:

    This is a nineth grade reading level. Perhaps his Excellency reads at fifth grade?

    That would explain his confusion.

  3. J. Basil Damukaitis says:

    WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LET’S HAVE A USCCB SPELLING BEE!

  4. JeanS says:

    Dark Knight: “nineth grade” s/b “ninth grade”

  5. Athanasius says:

    The whole “ineffable” affair reminds me of something by T.S. Eliot…..

    “When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought,
    of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Effanineffable

    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

    from “The Naming of Cats”

  6. Gail F says:

    A person from our bishop’s office, whose position and name shall remain secret, said in my hearing last week that we should thank the US bishops for exercising their teaching role and refusing to adopt a translation that would be “incomprehensible” to us. In light of this person’s own vocabulary, I found that description startling. Plus, I’m too dumb to understand what ‘incomprehensible” means.

  7. Michael Kramer says:

    this is hilarious im thinkin we should send this to the USCCB lol

  8. Michael: Don’t worry… you don’t have to send it…

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Gail F: A person from our bishop’s office … that … we should thank the US bishops for exercising their teaching role and refusing to adopt a translation that would be “incomprehensible” to us.

    Sorry, but as I recall the convoluted discussion at the USCCB meeting, our bishops in their wisdom rejected the motion to delete the word “ineffable”, so this person will probably find the translation incomprehensible. Too bad!

  10. I like to point out, when the phrase in question is “visible and invisible”, that all videogame players (i.e. almost the entire population of our country) know what invisible means, and could figure out the difference between merely not seeing something and its being invisible if you asked them to.

  11. “giggle-snort”, wiping my eyes, from the mouth of babes

  12. RBrown says:

    A person from our bishop’s office, whose position and name shall remain secret, said in my hearing last week that we should thank the US bishops for exercising their teaching role and refusing to adopt a translation that would be “incomprehensible” to us. In light of this person’s own vocabulary, I found that description startling. Plus, I’m too dumb to understand what ‘incomprehensible” means.
    Comment by Gail F

    That is a sterling example of clericalism. It is especially ironic because of the poor intellectual formation in US seminaries over the past 35 years.

  13. supertradmom says:

    As a teacher of the English language, I love this posting. Thanks for the good news. Maybe the said teacher may be hired to privately tutor those in the office of the American Bishops.