My goal to learn something new every day
In class today, the students were playing a game where they had a list of categories and, in partners, had to think of words beginning with a certain letter for each category. Basically a version of Scattegories. I like this game in class for a few reasons. 1) it gets the students to practice new vocabulary. 2) It helps with spelling, especially words beginning with r or l that Korean students often have difficulty with. 3) It really gets the students talking. I usually play the game with groups of 4 or 5 partners. Students have to discuss their answers, and try to persuade the other members of the group to accept their answer. Without realising it, this gets the students really communicating, and they forget all about making mistakes and just go at it. Typically, I like the students to resolve disputes themselves, and let the group make the final decision. However, I do offer them the chance to ask me to arbitrate if they feel it’s really necessary.
So during today’s game, the letter was ‘T’ and one of the categories was something you wear. A group of female students had written down ‘tattoo’ and were trying, with little success, to persuade the other members of their group to accept the answer. One of the girls called me over to see what I thought. I considered the phrase wear a tattoo for a moment, and didn’t think it sounded right. The other students were pleased, and on they went with the game. But, wait a moment, I thought. I’ve been in this situation far too many times, where just because I think it sounds wrong, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s so. After all, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine the phrase ‘wear a tattoo’. It makes sense. I asked the group to wait while I double checked.
Out came the phone and a quick search on Google revealed this article Why wear a tattoo? from the BBC. I promptly let the two girls know that there answer was acceptable.
I did a bit more searching when I got home and found quite a few more examples including in this book (preview available on Google Books), an example of it on a Wikipedia article called Human Billboard, and COCA even records one example of it.
Of course this could lead to a discussion of what is or isn’t acceptable, and who has the right to say what can and can’t be said. But I feel, from my very brief research, that contrary to my original belief, it is absolutely fine to say wear a tattoo.
And that is what I learned today.