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American student answers test question in Chinese

Aug 29, 2011 By Abraham

The translation shows the student answered the question just like the teacher wanted…

My life here is terrible. Work environment is not great and benefits are little. But don’t worry, everyday only about 10 people are seriously injured and I’m very careful. We opened a small shop, business isn’t bad. Although I don’t understand very much English, but I can still understand what white men say. Hopefully we can become successful, I will work hard and take care of myself.

Are you guys well? Miss you very much, hope to see you again.

(via Reddit)


  1. Audrey Simmons says:

    This is kind of funny, but confusing, because it actually looks a lot like homework assignments I had for my Chinese language classes in college…

  2. Andrew says:

    Awesome! Reminds me of the time one of my professors in college declared that he always, ALWAYS found grammatical mistakes in students’ work, and that he would certainly find some in mine.

    So I handed in my paper written entirely in Portuguese. There may have been grammatical mistakes, but he certainly wouldn’t be able to find them.

  3. Theresa says:

    Love all your daily postings! Though I’m confused on how this is funny…looks like the question ( i.e. you are to assume the role of a Chinese immigrant in 1870…) is asking the test taker to answer in Chinese…also, judging by the swift handwriting (my first language is Chinese), I’ll bet all my money that this student is not (native born) American.

      1. Jeremiah says:

        Because it is a Chinese class, therefore the instructions would be in English, the language the class is given in. At most colleges few language courses go for the immersion tactic.

    1. Jeremiah says:

      Agreed, This does look exactly like the kind of foreign language assignments you’d get in college. Maybe Chinese 102.

  4. Aly says:

    I swear this is the exact assignment my teacher gave me a few years ago in 8th grade Social Studies. Wish I’d thought of that…

  5. maizdulce says:

    yeah it looks more like a history question, than an actual language question… second language classes ask questions like, what did you do today?, and to describe your summer vacation…stuff like that. i doubt that a chinese language professor would ask someone to speak of an 1870’s chinese immigrants experience… seeing as how to learn the language this information is unnecessary. Just my opinion, though :)

  6. Michelle says:

    Like Theresa, I’m almost sure this is written by someone who grew up writing Chinese, or at least has studied a long time, not someone who typed what they wanted to say into google translate and just copied the answer.

  7. Emmanuel Chanel says:

    Hello! I’m a Japanese man. I don’t speak Chinese. But I understand that it’s written in Traditional Chinese script.
    The teacher should give F mark to the pupil that answered Chinese text for his homework. His idea was really good, though.
    You need to know these points:
    1. Meiji Restoration(明治維新 in Japanese) of Japan is around 1868.
    2. The Written Vernacular Chinese movement(白话文運動 in Chinese and 白話文運動 in Kanji, Chinese script in Japanese) started long after that. According to Wikipedia, it’s around 1917.
    3. The modern Chinese is much influenced by Japanese Kanji expression. The most of usually used two-letter words of Chinese are made in Japan. It’s a consequence of China’s defeat of the Sino-Japanese War 1 from 1894 to 1895.
    4. So Classical Chinese(*) is very different from the modern Chinese.
    cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_Chinese
    On the question, the Chinese immigrant wrote the letter in 1870. So it’s too earlier for him to write a letter in the modern Chinese. If he could write Chinese script, he would’ve written Classical Chinese, very different from the modern Chinese. And Classical Chinese doesn’t have punctuations. (I was forgetting that till I got a Japanese expert’s answer of my preparatory question for this post.)
    You say that he would’ve able to write vernacular Chinese? If so, I cannot translate the original text by Google Translator without problems. The Japanese expert wrote it down on a comment on my post on Facebook.

    * Classical Chinese = 文言 in Chinese = 漢文, Kanbun in Japanese

  8. Predrag says:

    If I were to venture a guess, this would be homework for a middle school social studies class, and the answer was expected in English, not Chinese. The student likely wrote it in Chinese to make some sort of a point. The kid is obviously Chinese, possibly Chinese-born and fluent, as well as literate in the language.

    Foreign-language classes would never ask for essays on historical themes, and most certainly not on this kind of a theme. What makes this amusing is that it was a school homework that was meant to be done in English.

  9. Drea says:

    Don’t over think this. The student knew another language answering the question quite well. If I were to over think this , it would be more to the idea of how that same letter could be written this day. This very day.

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