Dictee Short Essay - Answer Key

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
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1. Although the text is written in English, many of the forms and structures Cha uses do not adhere to standards of American English. Some of the translation passages, in particular, seem to have a structure that evinces first-language influence. Do you think the translation passages were originally written in English? Why or why not?

At the beginning of the book, many of the translation exercises contain phrases which do not seem to fit the conventions of standard English. It is possible that Cha has provided a rough translation of the exercises which were perhaps originally in French so that the English-speaking reader can get a sense of the language-learning process.

2. Discuss the break down in the translation exercise in the opening, particularly beginning with exercise number 5 in the second set of translations. Why does the grammar, tone, and voice shift?

In translation exercise number 5, the language mimics the thought process of a person beginning to think in a new language. It is fragmented and repetitive because it conveys the mind's attempt to process thoughts using an entirely different form. Each phrase seems to build on or correct the last as the speaker refines his/her meaning. Cha inserts this shift to show the reader both sides of the language learning process, the ordered, structured exercises, and the organic mental process.

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