As a reading and writing task, I asked my students to analyse and explain two paragraphs of a challenging newspaper article. One student’s laughable submission made me question what web tool out there could possibly have ‘helped’ him.
I asked students to read this CBC article about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Near the end, Macdonald analogises the limits of free speech with a physical fight and uses this to compare it to the Occupiers’ behaviour and image. He also refers to George Carlin and Wall Street Journal paper readers with regards to the threat of OWS movement taking down the 1% waning. I knew it would be challenging to understand and that students would more or less suggest they do understand when they don’t. So, the aforementioned reading and writing task was left for homework to email to me.
The Occupiers also managed to cross even American boundaries of free speech, which are probably the most liberal in the world. Loosely, the courts here have defined speech limits as the right to swing your fist, as long as you stop at the tip of the other fellow’s nose. Setting up tent cities in public parks, denying that space to fellow citizens, leaving trash lying about or relieving yourself in public spaces impinges on the other fellow’s nose. All the reports of sexual assaults and drugs didn’t help, either.
The Occupiers rose up, muddled about and, in the end, neutered themselves. If they were a threat to what George Carlin used to call the real owners of this country, they aren’t much of a threat anymore. And now winter is coming. No wonder the Wall Street Journal, the sacred text of all those smug, ridiculously rich, unpunished incarnations of greed, was sneering and rejoicing in an editorial today about the police raids on the tent cities.
Occupiers hitting touch ball on American free speech, however, the so-called free speech is just allowing you to swing your fist, as long as you don’t really hurt others. The homeless who tent in parks, even try to swallow up the parks, also, they don’t care about the parks and tend to hurt others.
They get together messily and destroy themselves in the end. These groups of people are unworthy of paying too much attention. It is winter now, and those homeless have to suffer the cold weather, that’s why the Wall Street Journal, which secretly stands in the side of those illegal rich, is laughing at the homeless.
Now, I’m usually willing to give the benefit of the doubt; most students had trouble fully explaining everything in the excerpt. But I’m not a moron. No student wrote this twisted gibberish on their own. It has signs of being translated by a machine like inappropriate unrelated vocabulary choice (e.g. “hitting touch ball”) or referring to the Occupiers as “homeless”. What throws me off about a translator as culprit is that the original text is in English.
So, my questions to you are:
How does a student take something like the original and turn it into the submission?
Is there a synonymiser web tool out there that could take L2 to L2 to create this mangled meaning?