QUIET WEEK or DEAD WEEK?

It’s QUIET WEEK on my campus—the week before finals, when students are hopefully finishing projects, preparing for exams, and writing papers. The idea of QUIET WEEK is to transition gently into finals exams, with instructors not making any last minute changes to the syllabus and not giving any finals early.

QUIET WEEK used to be called DEAD WEEK but was officially renamed a few years back. The intent was to make it clearer that work was still doing in during the week—classes were being met, readings done, assigned papers collected, presentations made, etc., but that things were slowing down.

However, the name QUIET WEEK has been a hard sell with students. It’s hard to change reality merely by changing language, and so far the name hasn’t caught on.

And I have a theory about this (which arose when a student explained the term DEAD WEEK to me). “It’s because students are dead on their feet,” she said. That etymology makes sense (you try writing four terms papers in ten weeks). I had always assumed that the dead of DEAD WEEK meant inert and thus that QUIET WEEK could be a possible and suitable synonym. But the double metaphor of DEAD WEEK (the intertia of the end-of-term and the exhaustion of the students) has made DEAD WEEK hard to kill, as it were.

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology was released by Oxford University Press in June of 2014.
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