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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Slippery Cakes Up Ahead!

I received the following in an email, written as usual in English, Russian and Kazakh:

Due to the weather conditions, roadways and sidewalks areas were covered with icing.

Ha!  Icing would have been easier to walk through than what we actually had.  Scott and I had been out of town, and returned to ice so hard and slippery that I was sliding around even in YakTrax.  One of our friends told us there had been freezing rain in Astana right before we got back into town, which is unusual here.  Usually, we get snow instead.

I know how difficult it is to learn foreign languages, and I would never want to make light of anyone's attempts to try, but I'm very comfortable calling this one a Google Translate tragedy.  Just for fun, I plugged the Russian version of this email into Google Translate, and got the exact sentence that I saw in the English version of the email.  Interestingly, that's exactly the sort of thing that I and other instructors and professors here have gotten after our students about.  A cautionary tale on the importance of learning (i.e., studying and practicing) foreign languages, perhaps?

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