I have a 4th-grade elementary student. He goes by Alex. His English is quite poor, and sometimes I wonder if he understands anything I say in class at all. Meanwhile, his habit is to just sit and grin about everything. So he gets points for good attitude.
Yesterday we had a speech test in his class. I give the students print-outs of their speeches that they have written and that I have corrected, to help them prepare. Alex sent me the following email a few hours prior to the class:
Teacher, my speech is at the school. I'm screw.
This was funny, as the pragmatics were perfect, despite the grammatical mistakes. Nevertheless, I was puzzled as to how he came to write this. If he wrote it, himself, then he is more resourceful than I thought. Unlike some messages I get from students, I doubt this was composed by a parent, since they would adopt a different tone, even if their English was good enough to be familiar with the idiom, "I'm screwed." So, I puzzled for a while as to how he came up with this phrase.
Then, I had a brainstorm. I typed "망했다" into googletranslate. Alex (along with most other elementary students) says this bit of Korean slang often enough when things go badly. Although no "official" Korean-English dictionary would say so, a rough translation of this extremely common phrase could easily be "I'm screwed."
Lo and behold, googletranslate (which relies on statistical correlations rather than the judgments of lexicographers) said "screwed." Well, that explains it: Alex typed his bit of slang into some translation gadget, either google's or someone else's, and got screwed.
[daily log: walking, around]