So, classes started last week …

JISHOU, HUNAN — This term is shaping up to be a lot more relaxed than the last three have been. First off, I have only 10 class sessions a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those are for Oral English with the sophomores and Listening Comprehension with the freshmen. Then, a new feature (since I am expected to have at least 16 class sessions a week) is six periods of “office hours.” Having never really had office hours in the past, this is a new concept to me. My initial impression was office hours similar to those at American universities. The professor sits in his office doing what-not, waiting for anxious students to appear. But no! Those office hours are expected to be tutorials, à la Oxbridge. So, for three of those hours I was asked to make a schedule for the students I will meet (freshman class 1) and devise some kind of exercise for them. The other three “office hours” will be devoted to meeting with a gaggle of non-English majors preparing for the English speaking contest. These have yet to be scheduled. Since I didn’t teach the freshmen last term, I’m using the first session as a get-acquainted ...

Adventures in translation 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — So, do you know what Rocky Mountain oysters are? If not, Google it, and come back when you get the answer. We’ll wait. {Jeopardy music plays in background ….} OK, so now you know they are bull testicles, what the big guy loses on his way to becoming a steer. In the Mountain West, they are considered a delicacy, though I will confess I have never eaten them despite spending two years in Wyoming. And I don’t really care for oysters, either, which is almost sacrilegious considering where I was born. Today I helped a friend, Ailsa, translate a Chinese menu into English for one of her friends, who wants to open a restaurant featuring local cuisine. We managed OK, until we came across a special dish, 汉寿老水鱼炖牛鞭 (HanShou laoshui shuiyu niubian), her friend had translated as “bullwhip with turtle stew.” Neither Ailsa nor I knew what to make of “bullwhip.” I guessed it might be the tail, as in oxtail soup, but I was a little off the mark. I had the right idea, but the wrong location. Our electronic dictionaries were of no help. We resorted to the Internet (we baidu’d it, meaning Ailsa used ...

Teh Bibul 1

The LOLcats craze pretty much passed me by. LOLcats are cute, sometimes funny, but they get on my nerves after awhile. Other folks have a lot more patience than I have. Volunteers are translating the Bible into LOLcat-speak. And I have to admit, it’s pretty funny in parts — the translation, I mean. Here’s an excerpt. Adam an Eve (bad kittehs) meet teh snake. GENESIS 3: Bad Kittehs 1 Nao teh snakez wuz mor shneakay than any beest ov teh field which Ceiling Cat had made. An he meowed unto teh woah man kitteh, liek I herd that Ceiling Cat said, u shall not eated frum any tree ov teh garden? Even dem trees on dat plate? 2 An teh woman said unto teh snakez, i can haz froot ov teh garden!3 but ov teh fruit ov teh tree which iz in teh midel ov teh garden, Ceiling Cat sez, dun eatz it cuz if u eatz it he mek u ded. 4 An teh snakez sed unto teh womenz, he no mek u ded:5 4 Ceiling Cat noes dat, teh dai u eat dat froot, den u gon b able to c, An u be liek Ceiling Cat, knowin ...
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