What does the taco have? What does it own or possess? What qualities or characteristics of the taco did they want me to know but didn’t tell me?
The enigmatic taco, a mini taco to be clear, will forever be a mystery I’m afraid because they never finished the sentence. What did that one taco have?
You see, the school lunch menu sent by a high school informed parents that lunch the next day would be the following:
Chicken Patty on a Bun, Green Beans, Salad Bar with Fruit and Milk
Pizza Burger w/Bun, Tator Tots oven prep, Salad Bar with Fruit and Milk
It ended abruptly, right before they completed the sentence. Taco’s what?
Being an educational institution, I assumed they know the English language and make it a point to set a good example in its usage.
Schools are always concerned about what is “appropriate.” Appropriate is a common educational word which often substitutes for “approval.” If it is appropriate, that means the district approves of it. Inappropriate means they don’t approve of it and therefore, it is quite wrong because they are the final arbiter of right and wrong in all things.
Language is very important. Mark Twain said “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.”
Be precise. Use the language correctly.
Sometimes, schools like to manipulate the language since changing the language can change the perception and we all know perception is reality. When I went to school, a student who was in a wheelchair was handicapped. Now they are differently-abled which, when I first heard it, assumed that it meant they can see through walls or fly or something.
When I was in sixth grade, Mrs. Zenk would bitch-slap you if you talked back to her. Now, students are classified as having “behavior disorder” and extended special courtesies not reserved for students who act properly.
So language is a huge issue to school districts. Using words that are out of favor or “inappropriate” could land you in really hot water as you would be viewed as unfeeling, insensitive and shockingly unaware of the impact your words have on sensitive, caring people. You would then apologize and all would be immediately forgiven.But using the English language correctly should be more important than memorizing the safe words. Well, that’s true unless you’re in outcome-based education which roughly says we don’t care how you get there, as long as you score well on the standardized tests. Maybe I’ve exaggerated a little. But one school of thought is that when grading a thesis or term paper, the teacher shouldn’t get that hung up on precise use of the English language because the student may be more concerned with grammar than content or innovation. So ignore misspelled words, fragments, run-ons and focus just on the thought process. That’s what I always encouraged when I taught writing at the junior college level. Except I called that a rough draft, not a finished product. I told them to concentrate on developing your theme logically and completely and then make it grammatically correct. Skipping the last part leaves one with the impression you are ignorant, an apparent goal of outcome based education.
So, back the mysterious taco which owns or has something undisclosed.
Sent out from an institution of higher learning to parents everywhere, the menu includes “mini taco’s.” What might be assumed from this is that what is being offered is “mini tacos” indicating the plural of “taco,” thus meaning more than one.
But if there is an apostrophe, as in “mini taco’s”, it means two things. First, we are talking about a single taco because as written, it is singular possessive. So, for the whole damn school there is a single measly taco. A mini taco at that. So you better get in line early if you want that taco.
Second, the apostrophe indicates possession of something. For example, this is Mike’s column. One Mike. He possesses or owns this column. What does that one lone taco own? We’ll never know because the school district won’t tell us. Is it a trait or characteristic? An item? Or are they using bureaucratic speak to hide a disability?
We will never know.