Fresher Fumbles: Freshers’ Comedy of Errors


The Difference Between Professor and Doctor

As Kemi finally located the venue for her 8am lecture, she sighed in relief and rushed in. She checked the time and nodded satisfactorily when she discovered she still had about ten minutes to review some of the notes she made the previous night.
On entering NFC UG02b, she was disappointed to discover that the front seats were all taken. Pursing her lips in irritation, she grumbled under her breath as she took a seat on the second row. She captured the faces of the students in front and made a mental note to ensure that none of them ever beat her to the front seat again. A few of them called out greetings to her, and she whispered back some of her own, smiling tightly.

As the clock struck 8, Kemi’s alarm went off to signify that the lecturer should be around already. He missed the class last week, and Kemi expected him to be punctual this time. However, she had to keep sighing incredulously until the stern-faced lecturer walked in at 8:12.

Without any explanation to back up his lateness, he went ahead to introduce himself and dove straight into the lecture. Kemi fumed as she furiously took notes, the English department was supposed to be better than this. She had hoped and prayed it would be, but the stark reality before her made her cringe.

After hurriedly reading out his notes, the lecturer packed them up and proceeded to leave. Kemi checked the time and found out it was only 8:50. What was wrong with these people? The activist in her reared its head, and she felt the need to speak up. She was in the University anyway, wasn’t everyone equal?
Kemi raised her hand, and she caught a disgruntled look on the lecturer’s face before he finally beckoned on her to speak. In her anger earlier, Kemi forgot to note whether the man’s prefix was Dr. or Prof., so she decided to go with the former. The man looked nothing like a Prof., anyway.

“With all due respect, Dr. Jigawa,” Kemi began, “could you stay the rest of the class to expound more on the topic? You said we’d be moving to the next topic in the next class, but in my research last night, I saw that there are more sub-topics under this one that we didn’t talk about.”

When Kemi ended her “speech”, the class was as silent as a graveyard. Kemi looked around at the faces of her coursemates and those who “borrowed” the course, hoping for support, but the looks she got back showed pity and surprise. Turning to the lecturer, Kemi wanted to cower back in fear at how hard his face had contorted. Harder than the bark of a coconut.
Was it because she was forward? Did she say something wrong? Didn’t she have the right to question the quality of the education she paid for? The answers to Kemi’s questions surfaced in the next few minutes.

“What’s your name, young lady?” The lecturer asked, pronouncing the word “name” with disdain. Kemi rattled it out.
The lecturer pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he scribbled. “And your matric. number?” he questioned further. Kemi answered and heard a few “ahhs” and other exclamations from her fellow students. She paid them no mind.

“Now, come out, young lady. Since you seem to have read everything in the syllabus, you will take your first C.A now,” he declared.
“But, sir…”
“Not a word from you unless you’re answering the questions.”
Kemi fell silent as the lecturer gave her a once over before finally rattling out the questions.
“Describe the Chomsky hierarchy of formal grammars and its relevance in understanding the computational complexity of human language.”
“What is the concept of Universal Grammar proposed by Noam Chomsky, and how does it shape his theory of language acquisition?”
“What are the key features of generative linguistics, as developed by Chomsky, and how has this approach influenced the study of syntax and semantics?”

Kemi opened her mouth and closed it back. No words formed because her head went blank. Who was Chomsky even? At that moment, Kemi realized she had messed up.
The lecturer smiled sinisterly. “Your silence tells me you can’t answer these questions. That, young lady, is the difference between a Professor and a Dr. And that should teach you to do your research about the lecturers. Professor Jigawa. Now, you’ll never forget. Foolish girl.”

He wrote down a big 0 in the book with him and turned to the class. “See you in the next class.”

Kemi nodded earnestly, with tears dropping from her eyes as she finally understood the gravity of her mistake. But it was too late, and she already lost 20 marks.

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