A Funny Exchange

The following occurred in class yesterday.

I was mentioning very fine cuts to my students (how the conversation ended up that way escapes me at the moment) and I mentioned something like, “…so you need to use a nipper to make very fine cuts.” I pronounced the word nipper as (nip’ ǝr), in other words, I pronounced it correctly.

I then noticed that a good majority of the class had their mouths open, so I asked if they new what a nipper was. There was a chorus of “no’s” so I explained that a nipper is what you use to cut your cuticles. Again, they didn’t seem to know what a cuticle was, so I draw a giant finger (complete with irregular fingernail) on the board.

I pointed out what the cuticle was and said, “This is what you cut with the nipper.” I turned towards the class again, happy that we were finally getting somewhere, when a girl raised her hand and exclaimed, “Oh, you mean acetone.”


After all was said and done, it turns out the students didn’t know what a nipper was because they were used to hearing the word pronounced nē-pər, with a long e (as in keeper).


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