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I’m studying for my English class and need an explanation.

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Choose ONE of the possible selections below (please label your choice on your assignment submission). Each essay should be 3-5, well-developed paragraphs. Use citations to the best of your ability. Offer specific details to support your opinions and/or analysis.

A) Funny or Not? (you MUST work with a partner on this one)

This is your chance to have a little fun.

Each of you “translate” a joke from your native language into English. Explain why it is funny to you and see if it is still funny once you’ve converted it to English.

Partners read the translated joke and see if it makes any sense to you. Is it funny? What did the original translator say about the type of humor used? Why does or doesn’t it translate well to English. Write each “joke” and the issues that arose.

Each of you write 3-5 paragraph answers and submit your work separately. Include your partner’s name.

(Here’s a paragraph from the New York Times article “Me Translate Funny One Day”


Jimmy Carter learned this (that jokes do not translate well) the hard way in Poland when his nonnative interpreter turned a perfectly wholesome remark of his into “I desire the Poles carnally.” And shortly after he left office, Carter was perplexed to find his opening anecdote in a speech to a college in Japan greeted with uproarious laughter. When he asked why the joke had gotten such an extraordinary response, he received this reply from his Japanese interpreter: “I told the audience, ‘President Carter told a funny story; everyone must laugh.’ ”… ) (Links to an external site.)

(Links to an external site.)

B) Masters Translating Information to Novices

I also teach international graduate students. It’s an interesting class, because most of them come from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. They are required to create a series of short lessons. These are basically like your extended definition, except where many of you had trouble “extending” your explanations to 700 words they have difficulty explaining their term or concept in only 10 minutes. Their descriptions are often too advanced for novice students (usually freshmen).

Imagine someone who knows a particular set of information very well (maybe she is even a genius in her field). Now, imagine that she is asked to teach people who are new to the field of study. Discuss some of the problems that might arise. Write 3-5 paragraphs describing your opinions and thoughts.

C) Globalization to the Extreme

Prof. Martin once had an interesting talk with a very helpful computer technician who favorably argued for a universal language. He felt that the world should come together to choose/create one language that would become the new way of communicating. It would take the place of all the other languages out there.

How do you feel about this?

Think about the following as you consider your answer: What does language mean? Would this be practical? Whose input/opinions matter on what the new language would be? What benefits/issues would emerge?

Write at least 3-5 paragraphs….please no more than 5!!!! (I’ve heard some pretty intense and lengthy arguments over this, which is great, but you don’t want to overwhelm your readers).

D) Science Fiction

There are basically 2 kinds of science fiction – soft and hard. Hard sci-fi deals with technology, showing off or describing what humans might be able to do at some point in the future. Soft sci-fi deals with social contexts and examine how human nature would cause us to react or survive in them. Much sci-fi deals with both.

Octavia Butler wrote a short, soft sci-fi story in which a disease wiped out people’s ability to use oral or written language, most often losing the ability to do both. Since I guess that you have not read this particular story, I would like you to describe what might happen to the world if all of the sudden most people could neither read/write nor speak/understand. What might the reaction be towards those who maintained the ability? Just how important is language to us as humans?

Write a 3-5 paragraph essay or short story describing what the world might be like.

If you are really interested, I will give you the name of the story later and you can read it (it is fascinating).


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