Friday, November 13, 2009

Chinese diploma, see?

I was just working on a translation of a college transcript, and learned two interesting things that I thought I would share with the universe.

Not all diplomas are created equal
I have found that there are three different types of certificate issued by Chinese universities.

1) Diploma - 毕业证书 (bi4 ye4 zheng4 shu1) - GOOD. This is for students who have completed and passed all of their classes. The best type of certificate to have, it is accompanied by an academic degree certificate, BS, BA, MA, etc.

2) Certificate of Completion of Studies
- 结业证书 (jie2 ye4 zheng4 shu1) MEH. This means that the student has completed all of their classes, but has not passed all of the classes, or at least they didn't pass their graduation test. I am not completely sure, but it means the student did not pass something and therefore does not qualify for graduation, but they did complete everything. Not a good thing to have, altho probably better than nothing.

3) Certificate of Study - 肄业证书 (yi4 ye4 zheng4 shu1) - BAD. This is apparently the worst type of certificate to have. I've only ever seen one out of the hundreds of academic documents I have translated. According to the Internet, it is worse than not having anything at all. Basically this says that yes, this person did study at this school, but they did not finish school. Here is what happens when you present this piece of crap at a job interview:
"But, Mr. Interviewer for a Good Job, I didn't finish because I ---"
"Zup! Zip! I don't want to hear it. Thanks for coming in today. Bye."
"But I -"
"Zup." [pinches lips shut as a subtle message]

Progress in the classroom!
OK, that is a very subjective statement, but I am basing it on a transcript from 2008, which had some classes I have not really seen before. Oh, there was the usual
马克思主义基本原理 (ma3 ke4 si1 zhu3 yi4 ji1 ben3 yuan2 li3), Basic Principles of Marxism, but then right under that was
儒道佛文化及其精神 (ru2 dao4 fo2 wen2 hua4 ji2 qi2 jing1 shen2), which is Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist Culture and Spirit. In the transcripts I usually translate, which are usually from the 1990s or before, I have never seen that class listed. The fact that it is taught now is kind of cool. I mean you still have all of the Communist BS, but at least they are branching out. And then I was really surprised to see this class: 动物福利 (dong4 wu4 fu2 li4), Animal Welfare! I have absolutely never heard of that being taught in China. So that, too was encouraging. Well done, Chinese educational system.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home improvement 101 and NaNoWriMo

I have decided to undertake the National Novel Writing Month challenge. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. And since it usually takes me several months to write a 16K- word short story, it is a real challenge.

But I have been keeping on track so far, and hopefully I will be a winner! Which in this case means that you complete the challenge. Here is a brief synopsis of the novel so far:

Thirteen-year-old Waverly Yancy finds an ancient amulet in his freezer. Somehow it seems connected to unexplained incidents in his own life. And when his parents find out the source of their African heritage, Waverly goes along for the ride of his life.

The working title is "The Sky Stones of Tombouktou." Essentially it is the black Harry Potter. Hear that, agents who are googling around, looking for the next great novel? "The Black Harry Potter." Heeeere, Google spiders. You might think: Dude, how can you write convincingly about a 13-year old African American kid? Well, you will just have to wait and see! It's gonna be awesome.

In other news, I fixed not one but 2 household items over the weekend. The first was the sink disposal. It was jammed and I was basically waiting for whatever crap was in there jamming it to
rot away and the problem would take care of itself. However, this was not happening. So I looked on the International Network of Computers (they have that now) and figured out that you don't have to take the thing apart in order to fix it.

All you have to do is cut off the power to it, get underneath with a 1/4" allen wrench and insert it into the access hole in the bottom of the unit. You then turn the blades manually with the wrench, and it works the blockage loose. Then you can grab whatever it was (spoon, bag, etc) with tongs and it is fixed! In my case it was just gunked up so after spinning it a few times it started moving freely again. Then Michala poured some dish soap in the drain and it was good as new. Amazing.

I also fixed the water dispenser that comes out of the fridge. I learned via the International Network that the tank for the water that comes out of the fridge door is in the back of the crisper drawer. Who knew? I had noticed a day or so earlier that a pepper in the crisper drawer had some ice on it. Hmmm. Maybe the tank was frozen? So I took out the drawer and found the tank. There was a tube coming out of it and when I fiddled with the tube some ice seemed to crunch and loosen up. I tried the dispenser again and -- holy home improvement Batman -- it worked!

Amazing Lesson: If something does not work in your house, go to the Internet and then fiddle with said broken item. With enough fiddling, you can fix anything!

Random Chinese factoid to keep blog relevant: 冰箱 (bing1 xiang1) means "refrigerator" in Chinese. Literally it means "ice box." Very to-the-point, if a bit old school. But some Chinese words are just old school, and the word for a thing does not necessarily change along with the technology of the age. For example, the word for "rocket" is 火箭 (huo3jian4), which is literally "fire arrow." And the word for spear and gun are the same exact word, 枪 (qiang1). Oh, and "black Harry Potter" in Chinese is 黑 哈利・波特 (hei1 Ha1 li4 Bo1 te4).