Friday, December 23, 2005

Hwang's "Artificial Mistake"

My wife told me that some Koreans have been discussing Hwang Woo-suk's linguistic skills, including his ability to coin new expressions, such as:

인위적 실수

Hwang used this expression -- which means something like "artificial (인위적) mistake (실수)" -- to describe his decision to publish his 2005 article before obtaining all the necessary data. Specifically, he was referring to the fact that he had fabricated the data for some stem cells to add to those that he claimed to have truly derived, thus making up the eleven cited in his article.

I'm curious about this expression and how it has been translated in English-language reports. I don't recall seeing anything in news reports on the Hwang debacle referring to Hwang's "artificial mistake" . . . or even, perhaps, his "intentional mistake"?

Any suggestions?


At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In-Wee-Juk Shil-soo means intentional mistake. I don't know about artificial.
But then again, I'm a 2nd gen Korean American, and my Korean sucks.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, David, for the comment. The expression "intentional mistake" works better for me. My wife, however, insists that the literal translation is "artificial mistake."

This is probably a case where the literal translation doesn't really work so well. I'd go with you on "intentional mistake."

Just don't tell my wife...

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The literal interpretation of 인위 (or 人爲 in Hanja) is "man-made," which may mean either intentional, artificial or even "human," depending on the situation. By the way, there's a separate word for "artificial" in Korea, which is "인공(人工)" meaning "man-crafted."

in this instance, I agree with David's explanation, because most Koreans interpreted Hwang's word as "intentional."

Hwang deliberately played on words to elude his falsification and make his artificial and intentional misconduct to look like even a "human mistake" to his sympathizers.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Noirum, for the more complete explanation. I'll have my wife take a look at your details. She was pretty busy when she explained it to me.


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