English Class… Bump, pump, pimp?

I am sure every Peace Corps volunteer has had their fair share of awkward/frustrating moments when attempting to refute or explain something that their student has seen on an American tv show or movie.

The other night… Tyler had a particularly interesting moment with his Level 4 or Communications class. In the class, they were reviewing phrasal verbs (i.e. take out, make up etc. etc.)

Setting: At the Dar Chabab with 12-13 students with fairly fluent English.Student 1: What is bump up?

Tyler explains that it is essentially to go up to the next level or on Facebook, a post can be “bumped up to the top”

Students all at once: Wait, is it with a ‘b’ or a ‘p’

Tyler writes “bump” with a ‘b’ on the white board.

Student 2: O! That sounds like the word that is for the thing to fill a bicycle tire

Tyler: right, pump, with a ‘p’

Student 3: ooo! That sounds like pimp!

Tyler: uhhhhh, yeah but that’s not a great word

Student 3: No, it just means make better, like “Pimp my Ride”

Tyler: yeahhhh but do you know what a prostitute is?

Some shocked faces because Tyler said the word ‘prostitute’ and quick explanations for those who did not understand, in Arabic

Further careful explanation ensues for the last two minutes of class about what a pimp is and how it is related to a prostitute….

End Scene

Even after a year and some months, it is still interesting as to what aspects from American culture via tv/movies are absorbed here… apparently “Pimp my Ride” is one of those things!


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