What do I have to do to get 18 year olds to enjoy English?! I've just done 2 hours of teaching for which I chose a theme that I thought would be of interest to them, hoping they would therefore be more enthusiastic than when I try to make them debate the pros and cons of bearing arms. The topic I decided on was British slang - showing them a video which explains different slang words, getting them to do a worksheet on the meanings of the words, and finally role playing a conversation amongst British teenagers, including these newly learnt terms. More blank faces. I even came to the conclusion that one of my pupils is perhaps deaf and mute, due to the lack of response I got from him, even when standing 5 inches away from him (seeing him out the window 30 seconds ago conversing normally with friends as he left the cantine has since disproved my suspicions). Surely a direct translation of 'the dog's bollocks' into French warrants a little smirk, no?
Anyway, I didn't come here to rant, I know it could be 20 times worse. The reason for today's spontaneous blog post was to try and figure out what exactly the word 'cheeky' means. I don't mean when it's used by adults reprimanding their insolent child by telling him 'Don't be cheeky'. I mean when youths of today put it in front of a noun to make it sound somewhat light-hearted and perhaps slightly rebellious. This was one of the words on my list of British slang for today's classes, and I literally couldn't explain it to my pupils, in English or in French.
I've since looked on Urban Dictionary (the best invention in the world, ever, even more so than sliced bread) but all the entries there haven't quite hit the nail on the head in capturing its meaning and usage.
Off the top of my head, here are some cheeky sentences to demonstrate what usage I am referring to:
"I'm just popping to the pub for a cheeky pint"
"Couldn't resist another cheeky photo of the cathedral"
"I live in a cheeky little town called Melle"
"Fancy hitting Oxford Street for a cheeky bit of retail therapy?"
I suppose, in reflection, 'cheeky' is mostly used when you're doing something a teeny weeny bit rebellious, or used when in fact you should be doing something else. But as my third example demonstrates, the word really can be used anywhere - there simply is nothing naughty about an innocent little historic town in the French countryside.
I guess it's just one of those words in the English language that has become totally overused and has therefore lost its meaning. I'm not having a go at its overuse, I quite like the word, and would even go so far as to say I use it myself from time to time, but it just caught my attention when I was teaching today, and had to admit to the class 'In fact, I'm unable to explain what it means'.
Right, I'm off to have a cheeky French yoghurt now. Bye! :P