Translations At War

| Learning | January 26, 2015

(One of the students in my history class is an exchange student, and English is not his first language. He sometimes gets a few phrases wrong. We are talking about the Civil War.)

Teacher: “What do you guys think was the most important factor in winning a battle in the Civil War?”

(Many kids raise their hands, including the exchange student.)

Student #1: “A larger army would win.”

Student #2: “Higher ground would help with the cannons.”

(The students continued to list things that would have given an army an advantage and why, until we get to the exchange student.)

Teacher: “What about you, [Exchange Student]?”

Exchange Student: “Human sacrifice.”

(Cue laughter, and strange looks, from the rest of the class.)

Student #3: “Human sacrifice? Like the Aztecs did?”

Exchange Student: “Uh… I think there was a bit of a mistranslation…”

(Apparently he meant to say “self sacrifice,” meaning that the soldiers would be willing to die for their cause. The class had a good laugh about human sacrifice being used to win the Civil War, though!)

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