That Makes No Tense (cont’d)

Yesterday afternoon I asked the Subject Representative in one of my classes, an absolutely delightful, though also quite quiet, young lady, “Will you collect the homework?”  To which she immediately replied, “No.”

Well.  After the momentary short-circuit inside my mind and soul subsided, and I rebooted my speech mechanism, I retorted, “No?” as though to say, “Did I just hear you say ‘No’?”

Moments later I realized what had just happened.  I had asked, “Will you collect the homework?”  However, because Chinese has no tenses, what she heard was, “Have you collected the homework?” to which the correct answer was “No.”  Immediately afterward, she then realized her mistake and said, “Oh, yes.  I will collect it.”

All this happened within about 5 seconds.

Teaching moments can come within very small packets of the space-time continuum.

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