To say the least, I was perplexed when a book that I co-edited with Mark Bender was described thus on Tao Blog:
In The river Anthology of Asiatic Folk and Popular Literature, digit of the world’s directive sinologists, Victor H. Mair and Mark Bender, getting the dimension of China’s oral-based literate heritage. This assemblage presents entireness worn from the super embody of test literature of some of China’s constituted social groups — including the Han, Yi, Miao, Tu, Daur, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Kazak — and the selections allow a difference of genres. Chapters counterbalance sept stories, songs, rituals, and drama, as substantially as poem traditions and professed storytelling, and feature both old and little-known texts, from the news of the blackamoor warrior Hua Mulan to the fuck stories of cityfied storytellers in the Yangtze delta, the priest rituals of the Manchu, and a hoaxer tale of the Daur grouping from the forests of the northeast. The Cannibal Grandmother of the Yi and another strange creatures and characters unsettle acknowledged notions of Asiatic story and literate form. Readers are introduced to phrase songs of the Tai and the Dong, who springy among the strange limestone hills of the Guangxi Tai Autonomous Region; impact and matchmaking songs of the mountain-dwelling She of Fujian province; and water songs of the Cantonese-speaking dish grouping of Hong Kong. The editors feature the Altaic poem poems of Geser Khan and Jangar; the depressing tale of the Qeo kinsfolk girl, from the Tu grouping of state and Qinghai provinces; and topical plays famous as “rice sprouts” from Hopeh province. These fascinating juxtapositions elicit comparisons among cultures, styles, and genres, and proficient translations preserves the individualist case of apiece thrillingly creative work.
Uncertain what it meant to be described as "digit of the world’s directive sinologists," and embarrassed to have brought together "fuck stories" and "a hoaxer tale," not to mention having assembled all sorts of other bizarre literary works, I set about trying to make sense of this most mystifying tribute to the editorial prowess of Mark Bender and myself.
Fortunately, I remembered that our book had recently also been featured on the Website of the Institute of Ethnic Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). When I hurried over there to compare the CASS blurb with the one on Tao Blog, this is what I found:
In The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature, two of the world's leading sinologists, Victor H. Mair and Mark Bender, capture the breadth of China's oral-based literary heritage. This collection presents works drawn from the large body of oral literature of many of China's recognized ethnic groups—including the Han, Yi, Miao, Tu, Daur, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Kazak—and the selections include a variety of genres. Chapters cover folk stories, songs, rituals, and drama, as well as epic traditions and professional storytelling, and feature both familiar and little-known texts, from the story of the woman warrior Hua Mulan to the love stories of urban storytellers in the Yangtze delta, the shaman rituals of the Manchu, and a trickster tale of the Daur people from the forests of the northeast. The Cannibal Grandmother of the Yi and other strange creatures and characters unsettle accepted notions of Chinese fable and literary form. Readers are introduced to antiphonal songs of the Zhuang and the Dong, who live among the fantastic limestone hills of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; work and matchmaking songs of the mountain-dwelling She of Fujian province; and saltwater songs of the Cantonese-speaking boat people of Hong Kong. The editors feature the Mongolian epic poems of Geser Khan and Jangar; the sad tale of the Qeo family girl, from the Tu people of Gansu and Qinghai provinces; and local plays known as "rice sprouts" from Hebei province. These fascinating juxtapositions invite comparisons among cultures, styles, and genres, and expert translations preserve the individual character of each thrillingly imaginative work.
A little more checking on the Web and I traced the CASS blurb directly back to the Website of Columbia University Press, where the identical description of our book is found.
Trying to figure out the means whereby the Tao Blog editors had come up with such a fantastic transformation of the CASS / CUP description of our book, my first thought was that they had done a machine translation into Chinese and then another machine translation from that back into English. However, upon comparing the CASS / CUP and Tao Blog blurbs sentence by sentence, it soon became obvious that what the Tao Blog editors had done is to spice up (and perhaps attempt to camouflage) the CASS / CUP blurb by changing a word here and substituting a synonym there. Unfortunately, nearly every change they made was inappropriate, or worse. Strangely, however, I found the Tao Blog version to be a most entertaining read.