When I was in grade 6 (last year of primary/elementary school), most of the two grade 6 classes went on a 4 or 5 day excursion to another regional city in the same state. We were hosted by the families of the students of a local primary school, visited some of the local attractions and socialised with the students. One evening, we watched a movie which, over the years, I retained only vague details of. A young boy and girl at an English school ‘get married’, so that they can always be together. Once the internet became a thing, I’d vaguely thought of searching online, but where to start?

A few days ago, while aimlessly browsing the internet, I came across a reference to a movie called Melody, which was obviously the one. Youtube has trailers (one of which) and Vimeo has the complete movie, which I watched. It was generally as I vaguely remembered it. It stars Mark Lester and Jack Wild, Oliver and the Artful Dodger respectively in Oliver!, as the boy and his best friend (very similar to those in Oliver!), and Tracy Hyde as the girl.

Inevitably, there was a language point. Daniel and Melody skip school and go to the beach. Among other things, they talk about their school subjects. He asks ‘Do you like new maths?’ and she replies  ‘They’re okay’.

British (and associated) English uses ‘maths’ while American (and associated) English uses ‘math’. British English also uses plural nouns more: ‘the government were’, ‘my team are’.* Even so, no-one (as far as I know) says ‘mathematics are’, at least when talking about the subject. It is possible to use ‘mathematics’ plurally when you mean ‘mathematical calculations’: ‘the mathematics of a moon landing are very complex’.

Thinking about other subjects endings with ‘s’,  ‘physics’ and ‘ethics’ are (as far as I know) never abbreviated as ‘phys’ and ‘eth’. (There is less reason to abbreviate a two-syllable word.) ‘Linguistics’ might colloquially be ‘ling’ (not ‘lings’), but you’re unlikely to say ‘I’m studying ling’ in the same way that you would say ‘I’m studying math(s)’. ‘Economics’ might colloquially be ‘econ’ (not ‘econs’), while ‘home economics’ is either ‘home ec’ or ‘home eco’. (‘eco’ by itself is generally the abbreviation of ‘ecology’, but only in compounds.)

After I found the movie accidentally, I decided to search for it online, just as an experiment. I typed ‘english movie school boy girl marry’ into the internet browser on my mobile phone and the first three results were a Korean movie called ‘Marrying high school girl’, an IMDb user’s list of ‘100 best romantic comedy movies’ (which ‘Melody’ is not on), and Wikipedia’s list of interracial romance films. On my office computer, I got two Youtube videos – ‘An American boy fell in love with an Indian girl from Ranchi on facebook and now they have decided to tie the knot’ and ‘Young girl forcing a young boy to marry her watch the boy’s react’ – and ‘Marrying high school girl’. At home, even though I had watched the movie and searched for various information about it, I got the IMDb list, ‘Marrying high school girl’ and the Wikipedia list. I don’t understand how internet search engines work, and after that experiment I’m not likely to in the near future.

* for some people, the choice of verb depends on whether the team is viewed as a unified entity, often positively (‘my team is playing well’) or a collection of individuals, often negatively (‘my team are arguing among themselves’).


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