Sunday, December 04, 2005

Is it Real, or Is it Babelfish?

I am spending today marking papers, and ran across this entry. The assignment was to produce the first paragraph of a five-paragraph essay explaining why the movie Titanic was so popular. It may well be the single worst document I have ever received from a student; its randomized badness has attained a kind of power akin to poetry....

The penetration movie Titanic great writer's manufacture, the world all infected this unpopularity for a while. Movie itself may do is a pure art, also may do is a time will of the people reflection. However, appreciation "Titanic" this kind of Hollywood movie, why can be popular? Why can receive are moved? This kind of situation had reflected how time mind does earnestly seek?

I think this line: Why can receive are moved? is a translation of something like Ru2 he2 zhen3 nung2 gan3 shou1 dao4 ne fen4 gan3 dong4? My reading is that she wrote it in Chinese, and then spun it through Babelfish. The student in question makes a living teaching Children's English. Aargh!


7 comments:

China Doll said...

Compared them to the English translations often seen in the mainland, your student's attempt is not really a bad one - at least they are English words.

It took me awhile to understand "Renmin Dahuitang" means "People's Hall" in China.

Jason said...

Hey! she aped my, writing style!

Stick it to her, I say: make copies of it, pass it out to all of her classmates, and hold an hourlong discussion on its grammar mistakes WITHOUT revealing who wrote it. She'll have to sit through it all, lest she wants to tip classmates off that its her paper by running out of the room in shame. It's a great way to punish someone anonymously while sending out a clear message to the others!

Tim Maddog said...

Looks a bit (Babel-)fishy to me, too. I tried to come up with a version that would sound correct in Chinese and that Babelfish would translate into that exact English, but I can't figure out what would result in "penetration movie," "time will," or "time mind." Anybody have any ideas?

Jonathan Benda said...

Hope your student didn't get the idea from my blog! I'd feel guilty... ;)

Jonathan Benda said...

I think "Why can receive are moved?" is probably something like "Why can the audience be moved [by the film]?" This is assuming "recieve" is supposed to be something like "recipients"=viewers/audience, which is probably not too far a leap. And "can ... are" just might be an attempt at "can ... be".

Or it might have been Babelfished...

Mark said...

@china doll: "renmin dahuitang" isn't an English translation, it's pinyin. There's nothing wrong with using it, either. If you think about it, pinyin not only helps English speaking foreigners who can't read characters, but it helps Spanish speakers, Japanese speakers, Thai speakers, etc... Pinyin is also used by all Chinese grade school children and speakers of other Chinese languages (such as Cantonese, or Hakkanese).

MJ Klein said...

there is a circle of Taiwanese english "teachers" in Taiwan who exist solely to teach shitty english to other bad teachers. i have great difficulty understanding these people when they speak in english. i contend that very few of the people who study english in Taiwan have any real purpose for it - except of course to impress their friends. funny how they all love english names though. ask them to use your chinese name and see what happens. i love it when i show up somewhere and suddenly the english words spring up in all the conversations. yeah, i'm impressed alright....