And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I sometimes think that teaching is a lot like comedy, particularly in a big class. There’s a definite performance atmosphere; no matter how tired, sick or depressed you feel, you still have to go on stage (metaphorically) and perform.
But you know what? No matter how much I dread it beforehand, when I’m on that imaginary stage, I feel good. There’s no chance to stop and think; everything speeds past in a rush of frenetic activity. It’s not like an arithmetic class where you can give the pupils some sums to do and kick back for a few minutes.
Like comedy, there are hecklers, too. I’ve got to admit that I actually enjoy the banter with them. Sometimes it’s a good opportunity to throw in a gag, or an amusing fact or anecdote.
When one of the pupils pointed out yesterday morning that—in his opinion—the character on the flashcards I was using looked like an okama (a widely used word in Japanese meaning transvestite or womanly man), I was able to defuse it by telling them about the origin of the English word “bad.” As I found out the other day, it once meant approximately the same as okama: “feminine man.” Apparently the gender politics of pre-mediaeval England weren’t exactly right-on.
As far as the changes in meaning that a word can go through over time, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more extreme or unexpected example.