For those in Britain who lament the 'dumbing down' of the education system...
A French friend's brother is an English professor in a French state school teaching 13-14 year olds. The other day he was lamenting the widespread use of internet translations by his pupils. Apart from being lazy and not particularly instructive electronic translations are notoriously unreliable and he was spending hours trying to make sense of homework.
One of his class had submitted an essay on British popular music containing the phrase: 'Elton John collaborated on by helped made green'. What on earth, he pondered, did this nonsense mean? Our friend's brother scratched his head and fretted over the essay for hours. He got on his computer and reversed the search putting: 'Elton John collaborated on by helped made green' into the English to French translation engine. That did not make any sense either. The whole thing became something of a mental challenge.
Suddenly there was an Eureka moment. Of course: 'Elton John collaborated on by helped made green' meant 'Elton John collaborated on Aida by Verdi'. The search engine had taken 'Aida' as a conjugation of 'aider' meaning 'to help' and 'Verdi' as a form of 'verdir' meaning 'to turn green'. Obvious really.
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