Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Using Cribs

Alec Waugh (1898-1981), The Loom of Youth (1917), Book III, Chapter I:
Carter was construing, and had made a most preposterous howler, it does not matter what. He had learnt the translation in the notes by heart, and quite failed to connect it verbatim with the Greek.

"There now, you see how utterly absurd you are," said the Chief. "You have not taken the trouble to look the words up in a dictionary. Just because you see what you think is a literal translation in the notes. There lies the fatal error of using cribs. Of course when I catch a boy in Shell or IV.A using one, I drop on him not only for slackness but dishonesty. The boy is taking an unfair advantage of the rest and getting promotion undeservedly. But in the Sixth Form you have got beyond that stage. We don't worry much about marks here, so there is nothing immoral in using a crib. It is merely silly. It tends to slack translation which in the end ruins scholarship. And by using the notes as you do, Carter, you are doing the same thing. You really must use more common-sense."

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