By Carol Froisy
Program Director, English and Communication at American Public University
Myth 1: English majors cannot “do” math.
Every good English major knows the difference between “two,” “too,” and “to.” It’s true that we might try to round-up our calculations to soothe our penchant for neatness. Zero is a wonderfully round and even number, but we use it only when necessary; so, many times, it is merely a place holder. (See, we even speak “math” all the time.)
We can too add deductions! But seriously, it just seems so silly not to use the calculator that is right on the computer screen. After all, using a calculator ensures that we remain as perfect as we think we are.
We can read equations. For instance, 2p + 7p + 2c = 0. This equation is easy for an English major to solve. Two papers plus seven papers add two coffees, and we are done grading. Solving a binomial theorem is rudimentary reading to us. Example: (V + W)6. This reads verb plus word six times, so elementary, right? Answer: See Dick. Run Jane. Get Spot. Go Home. Find Sally. Eat supper. When asked if we can find the properties of hyperbolas, we quickly recite the definition that they are extreme exaggerations to make a point.
I believe I have proven, without a doubt, that English majors are good at math.
Myth 2: English majors know a little bit about everything because they read so much.
This is a myth because we do not know a little about everything. We know a lot about everything. The myth that we mentally correct everyone’s sentences, logic, and grammar is just not true sometimes. The truth is that we do it all the time.
We do not correct newscasters by screaming at the television screen. We do not stop by businesses to let them know their sign is misspelled or the grammar is incorrect. We do not carry black Sharpies in our pockets or purses. There is not a single English major who has corrected grammar that has been written on a retail store bathroom stall wall (where I theorize is home to the worst grammar in the world).
Writing on bathroom walls is vandalism, but if it is for the good of the people to see the correct way something should be written…well…the grammar gods forgive us our daily Sharpie transgressions in the name of education, no matter the venue or platform. I cannot speak for my fellow English majors, but “your stupid” cannot remain etched in steel. Although true and pithy as is, I am duty-bound to dig for my keys and scratch in the apostrophe and “e.” Your stupid, but I’m not. And, don’t get me started on “UR.”
Public signs, on the other hand, no matter the location, are guilt-free offerings made for correction. Remember back in 2002 when Hollywood released “Two Weeks Notice”? I do believe English majors all over the country passed out.
If we only had a nickel for each time we mentally corrected “Honey, I shrunk the kids,” or cried for an additional hyphen in “The 40 year-old Virgin” and “Law Abiding Citizen,” and “Eight Legged Freaks.” We pleaded for a question mark for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” We begged Hollywood to give us a colon in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but Star Trek has been an irritation in our oyster ever since “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Let’s face it. We’d be rich.
Myth 3: English majors are not snobs.
However, if the maker’s mark in my coffin is misspelled, I will refuse to rest in peace. *Malapropisms intentional.
About the Author
Carol Froisy is the Program Director for the English, Communication, Literature, Art History and Music departments. She has been teaching with APUS since 2007 staring as an adjunct faculty member. Carol is currently a doctoral candidate at Northcentral University. She has four children ages 40-12 and grandchildren. Her husband is retiring in July, 2015 from the United States Marine Corps after 31 years of service to our country. Carol would not know what to do with free time if she had some, and that is all right with her.