The vocabulary of the Worker is MUCH different from that of any old Employee.

It is a rare occasion when I pick a book up off the shelves here and laugh out loud upon reading the first paragraph.  And on an occasion such as the aforementioned, like, say, when I find a copy of Eli Jacobson’s English for Workers tucked among a large group of pamphlets, it would be cruel not to catalog it and share it with our readers (I think we’re up to five now?).

Here is that delightful first paragraph:

I cannot speak English. I cannot read English well. The workers in the shop speak English. I cannot talk to them. I do not understand them. I have to go to school to learn English.

A few paragraphs later, and the chapter lesson ends with the sentence, “I must know English to do good work in the union.”  The entire text is laced with political propaganda, with a whole chapter devoted to the “traitors of the working class,” scabs. My favorite part thus far (because I haven’t read the entire text yet), however, is the beginning of Exercise B of Lesson X, “Classes and the Constitution, uses of the numerical adjective, possessive of nouns.

What color are these workers? One is black and the other is white.

Is one of the workers black? Yes, he is black, but both are workers.

… Have you a prejudice against a black worker and not against a white worker? No, I have no prejudice against any worker.

Who has prejudices? The capitalists and the middle-class have prejudices.

I don’t want to give away any secrets, but I have a feeling that some of the people featured in our next catalog (look out for it in November!) should have read this book as a child.

Until next time!


One Response to “The vocabulary of the Worker is MUCH different from that of any old Employee.”

  1. LisaLou Says:

    Okay, I love that. Talk about making your reader want to see more of the text!

    Wonder how a contemporary version, say for sweatshop iPhone makers (don’tgetmewrongiloveminebut), would explicate the demands of the precise lingo of that workplace.

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