Daily Archives: August 20, 2010

In the Classroom: Sigh

The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life. (From this NYT article about 20-somethings)

In a nutshell, my problem with Teach for America.  How about recalibrating it so that participants see teaching as a career and not simply a sidetrack before beginning “adult life”?

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Lost in Translation

Mutti, can you please make Pfannkuchen for dinner? Pretty please?

Of course, Liebling.  Would you like them with Zucker for dessert or with ham und Käse for the main course?

Setting a book for English readers in a non-English-speaking environment creates an interesting  problem.  Many writers solve it along the lines of the exchange I made up above — tossing in some relatively easy-to-figure-out foreign words so readers are aware that the characters are speaking German not English.  Here the child is calling her mother the German word for mommy followed by the very American expression, “pretty please” a solution I find very clunky if they are supposedly speaking only in German.  And film-makers have the same problem. Check out this excellent presentation on the subject over at Slate:  “How Hollywood Represents Foreign Speech.”

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