The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Here I Am Again

My theme song should really be "Authority Song" by John Mellencamp. I always know I'm in trouble when I find myself in a situation and that song starts playing in the back of my head:

I fight authority, Authority always wins
Well, I fight authority, Authority always wins
Well, I've been doing it since I was a young kid
I come out grinnin'
Well, I fight authority, Authority always wins

I got my second French composition back. The way this composition deal works is that you write a draft and turn it in, then the teacher indicates any problems and gives it back to you to revise. Then you turn in the final version, and your draft grade and final version grade are averaged.

The corrections for composition #1 were fine. I mean, you know, I messed some stuff up. But this second composition...she corrected word choice. As a writer I hate that. For instance, I wrote, Avant il a été a l'abri, une vieille femme le possédait. I'm writing about one of my dogs here, my Blue dog. This sentence translates as such, "Before he was at the shelter, an old woman owned him." Here is the sentence my teacher would prefer: Avant d'être à l'abri, une vieille femme était sa maîtresse. This sentence translates as, "Before being at the shelter, an old woman was his mistress/owner." Okay, folks, what's the difference between these two sentences? Not a goddamn thing. It's word choice. And sentence structure choice. In other words, a matter of opinion. There was nothing wrong with the first sentence. Nothing.

At another point in the composition, I used the word ainsi. She circled this word and wrote: "vocab- utilise plutôt 'donc.'" (Translation: "vocab- use rather 'donc.'") Only ainsi and donc ARE FRICKIN' SYNONYMS! They mean, "so" or "therefore." My sentence (translated) was, "She couldn't tell me, "No," therefore we adopted him [Chester] too." And my teacher is going to cross out "therefore" in favor of "so"?! Are you kidding me? I mean, am I a master of the French language? Am I so good that we need to be this picky?!

And besides that, it's not even about being picky! It's about personal preference. And I hate it when my writing is graded based on the personal preference of my professor. I mean, listen buddy, I'm not you, I'm not in your head. I cannot write it the way you would write it! I am a completely separate person! It is not fair (and I hate using that word) to grade me based on your preference for "so" versus mine for "therefore." It just isn't!

So now what to do? I want to set up a meeting with my teacher and say, "What is this about? I mean, are you penalizing me for using a synonym?!" But then I hear that song in my head. I fight authority, Authority always wins. It's early in the game here. Should I just suck it up and make the arbitrary changes she requests? Or do I state my case? Naturally, I want to state my case...but is that the wisest thing to do? Only, it'll kill me to keep my mouth shut.


  • I love the Authority Song! When I was a kid, I always thought the chorus was "I found a four leaf clover and always will".


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:29 PM, February 03, 2005  

  • Did she actually penalize you for those? That does not seem fair or logical at all.

    If that is the case, I would approach her to ask about it but approach her in a non-confrontational, "I just want to understand for future reference" manner. She should appreciate that, after all.

    By Blogger Diva, at 6:21 PM, February 03, 2005  

  • Maybe she's trying to syke you out.

    My friend once had this English teacher, who "corrected" her mistakes, even though there was none. She kept getting mad, because she couldnt see anything wrong with her spelling or wording, and so then one day she snapped.

    She told the teacher that he had been "making terrible mistakes" on her paper, and she showed him all this proof of how she was right.

    Surprisingly, he agreed with her and told her the reason behind it.

    See, she wasnt the only one getting "mistakes" on her paper. Everyone else was too, as well. It's just that he wanted to see which students would stand up to him and right the wrong he had been doing on everyone.

    Just because he was a teacher, doesnt mean that he is always right, was the lesson he taught his class the whole year. That and too stand up for themselves.

    So, I dont know, maybe thats what your French teacher is trying to do as well.

    By Blogger D.T., at 8:01 PM, February 03, 2005  

  • The last French course I took I barely passed because I became lazy and used alta vista translation. That doesn't work so well when writing essays about much as I liked learning French (it was my minor), I only liked one of my teachers. It always seems like they hold grudges...

    By Blogger nicole, at 9:43 PM, February 03, 2005  

  • Mmmmnnnn, sounds like she's got you (how do you translate it?) between a rock and a hard place. Ouch... ~;^)

    By Blogger foxymama, at 12:40 AM, February 04, 2005  

  • Foxy Mama...I believe the French term for that is:

    "Je ne sais pas"

    Right, Bean?

    By Blogger D.T., at 8:17 PM, February 04, 2005  

  • Ce n'est pas juste et ça m'énerve beaucoup! Les deux phrases marche bien à mon avis.

    By Blogger Egan, at 3:36 AM, February 05, 2005  

  • Anonymous, I thought the chorus was, "I fought authority and don't it always win?" In fact, I thought that was it until I looked up the lyrics for this post!

    Diva, I did talk to her after all. Did she take off points for those things? I didn't ask her that specifically. Rather, I just asked what was wrong with what I had written. By the way, everyone, apparently there is something gramatically incorrect about Avant il été à l'abri... "Avant" must be followed by either que or de. I guess I don't know everything. Say it isn't so! (But I am still right about the ainsi/donc situation.)

    DT, No, that's not the case. And if a teacher pulled that with me, I would complain loud and long to their boss. What bullshit!

    Nicole, WhimsyChick turned me onto a Mac program called Sherlock, which also does translation. However, I quickly found out that--most times--I can do a better job of it than it can. You certainly can wind up with some weird ass sentences by using a translator. One way to appreciate it is to put some French into it and see what the English looks like on the other side. Quite amusing. And strange enough, too, that I would think a teacher would figure out pretty quickly that you hadn't come up with those structures yourself, no?

    Foxy, Yeah, and I hate that! One of the reasons school is so aggravating to me. I hate it when people have the "authority" to grade me!

    DT (again), Well, Je ne sais pas means "I don't know," so I'm not sure if that's quite the same meaning as "between a rock and a hard place." But it might be close enough for me! Maybe I should have you write my French composition from now on!

    Egan, J'accorde. Elle est folle!

    By Blogger Oz, at 10:49 AM, February 07, 2005  

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