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Saturday 18 August 2018
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Mutiny at SEA



IN SYMPATHY with the 18,000 children whose adult lives as either BMW drivers or BMW washers were settled last Thursday by the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination, I began, last Friday, my own Sixties Entrance Assessment with the maths section of an SEA practice test. Today, I tackle the “Language Arts,” hoping 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: Q1. 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.”

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 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 (outside Cabinet meetings, of course) 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. 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, “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

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. 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 dunce. Read a longer version of this column and more of his writing at www.BCPires.com


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