What would George Carlin Say? Might Translation be Reverse Plagiarism?

Still they ask you in court to “use your own words,” and more to the point of my profession, we tell our students to “use your own words,” and we even have fancy computer programs like “turnitin.com” that help us haul offenders off for plagiarism, which is the crime of using someone else’s own words which is, like I said above, is just about all I ever do.

The only people I can think of who made up any number of their own words are Charles Dickens, James Joyce, and Mark Twain. They made up their own words, and we call it literature. When I do it, I’m considered to be babbling incoherently. Or speaking German, since in German you can ram odd words together, capitalize it and call it a noun, and its o.k. See Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

Speaking of German, I recently completed a translation of Max Weber which I hope all of you have read by now. (If you haven’t, please ask your library to get it!)

Our translation takes German words which Weber mostly borrowed from other people, throw in a couple of German nouns he made up, and then using English words we heard somewhere else (not from Weber) we then claiming that Weber said them. It is kind of like reverse plagiarism, I guess. Think about it. We took words Weber heard in German, and then turned them into words we heard somewhere in English, but Weber never heard. In other words, we take words from people Weber never knew, and then give him credit for uttering them. Lucky guy!

George Carlin of course had something to say about borrowing words. If you have time, continue listening after this brief clip to the following clip which is on euphemism—Carlin tells the story of how Shell Shock in World War I, became Battle Fatigue in World War II, Operational Exhaustion after the Korean War, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the Vietnam War.