On the first day of my writing classes this semester, I told my students that whatever their English skill was, they could write better than the computer could translate. I didn’t say this to be polite or encouraging to my students (though I hope that I am polite and encouraging to them); I said this because it is true. Translating between different languages, especially ones that are as dissimilar as Korean and English, is really hard. Moreover, translating all of the information humans know about language into computer language is really hard. For these two reasons, you are a better translator than your computer.

If you don’t believe me, try this. Choose your favorite online translator. Type in a simple sentence and translate it into another language. Now, translate the result back into the original language. I doubt that you will get a good result.

For example:

I used the website babblefish.com.

I wanted to translate “How are you?” from English into Korean.

The program said “How are you?” = “오늘 어떠세요?” in Korean.

Next, I translated “오늘 어떠세요?” from Korean back into English. Instead of getting back “How are you?” the computer told me that “오늘 어떠세요?” = “U tremble today?”

So, using the computer “How are you?” = “U tremble today?”

See, I told you you were much smarter than the computer.