Monday, May 28, 2007

Kang-i Sun Chang's new book on living through the White Terror

A while back I reviewed Kang-i Sun Chang's (孫康宜) book 走出白色恐怖 (Farewell to the White Terror). At least one commenter mentioned interest in an English version of the book.

Now I see that the author has published an English version of this book--Journey Through the White Terror: A Daughter's Memoir, published by National Taiwan University Press.

She also has a new edition of the Chinese book out. Unfortunately, neither book appears to be available through Amazon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The end of an era?

Got this in my e-mail today:
由於本校電話撥接上網(Remote Dial In Service)使用率極低,而且此項上網設備維護及零件更新不易,故2007年6月1日起計中停止電話撥接上網服務,原使用者請改以學校寬頻、無線(WiFi)、或各網路ISP公司ADSL上網,不便之處敬請見諒。
It's basically saying that they're shutting down Tunghai's dial-in Internet service because it's not being used very much.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A reminder to myself not to count on e-mail for communicating with students

This showed up in my inbox yesterday:
主旨: FENM Reminder
傳送時間: 06/09/06 06:55:05 PM

在 05/20/07 10:59:11 PM 被讀取。
It basically means that the e-mail I sent out to a student last June was just read by that student yesterday. Hmmm...

Monday, May 14, 2007

My boring dream & Susan's exciting defense

I dreamt that I was at a literature conference in England and that the whole Q & A part of one session was devoted to someone reading a list of the bookstores where a new up-and-coming scholar would be having book-signings. I got up and started walking to the door, muttering to myself, "I gotta get out of this dream! It's so boring!"

On a completely different note, I am 100% sure that Susan's diss. defense will be illuminating, exciting, and just generally wonderful. I wish I could be there. I know I wouldn't want to leave!

[Update: HRH Dr Susan informs us that her defense was indeed a success. As I predicted. (Ahem.) Congratulations! Can I call you "HRH" for short?]

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Machine-translated student writing

I mentioned a while back what appeared to be the beginnings of a trend in using translation software to complete English writing assignments. More and more, I'm (literally) having to translate students' writing into Chinese to be able to understand what they're talking about. I've been grading student-written plays the last few days (for a first-year English program-wide student play assignment that I find of dubious value in the first place). I keep coming across sentences like this (credit for those of you who can figure out the correct Mandarin or Taiwanese meaning):
  • "Eat smoke."
  • "(Disguises shy)" (stage direction)
  • "Usually work overtime and all do not go home, the daughter-in-law comes after him to also eat a few bitter."
  • "Lazy have to say with you."
  • "If you go the speech..." (this last one is tricky)
I'm thinking about how I can combat deal with this apparent increase in the use of machine translation. I'm thinking that one possible approach is to try to work with students to help them use the translators to get meaningful English sentences (rather than trying to think of ways to stop students from using them). But I don't know... Ideas?

[Update: I talked to my students about this situation. They laughed at the examples (the "If you go the speech" one was hard to figure out even for them). Some of them expressed frustration at the idea of starting out by writing in English rather than writing in Chinese and translating. They said they felt they wouldn't be able to say anything if they started out using English. (I don't think that's true, but I admit it would probably take them longer to work out their ideas in English.) On the other hand, when I was working with them and I pointed out particular sentences, they were able to come up with decent-sounding English sentences that more-or-less conveyed their meaning (like, "I don't want to talk to you!" instead of "Lazy have to say with you"). So it's not like they're not capable of putting together a script in English. It's more a matter of how they go about this process.]