A translation exercise about morality!

A woman lived with her husband beside a river. She felt very lonely because her husband often left home. One day her husband went away for three months. While he was away, the woman took a lover. He lived on the other side of the river. Every day she crossed a bridge to meet him.

One morning the woman got a phone call from her friend: "Quickly! Come back home! Your husband will be home early! He must not find out you spent the night outside of home!"

The woman ran to the bridge to go home. But there was a soldier on the bridge. The soldier said: "You cannot cross. If you try to cross, I will shoot you."

Near the bridge there was a boat. The boatman said "I can take you across the river, but I want $100". The woman didn't have $100 so she called her lover. "Can you give me the money?", she asked? Her lover said "No."

The woman tried to cross the bridge. The soldier shot her.

From 1-5, who was most responsible for the woman's death?

- Woman

- Husband

- Lover

- Soldier

- Boatman

Your task:

- Give us your opinion: from 1-5, who is most responsible (eg. woman, soldier , boatman, soldier, husband) and explain why!

- Translate this into your target language (or native language, if you're an English learner) and post it as a discussion! If your level is high enough, then definitely make the boring language more colourful! (eg. "The woman ran to the bridge to go home" could be "the desperate housewife frantically sprinted towards the bridge, dripping in sweat" is my Chinese attempt... (

- Tell us what people said in the other languages' italki! I have no idea what Spanish-speakers are saying in Spanish italki and it would be fun to know...

I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Is the woman the worst person on the story? Or is it her husband? Or her lover...

Oct 7, 2016 6:06 PM
Comments · 34
Soldier:  The person who shot the bullet was the one responsible for her death.   It doesn't matter WHY the soldier pulled the trigger.  None of the other facts in this story contributed to her death.  These could have all played out without her death.  The soldier pulling the trigger directly resulted in her death.
October 8, 2016
@Laura If that was the case he could have prevented her from crossing the bridge without killing her, such as tying her down or otherwise physically restraining her or, even better, building a barrier at the bridge so nobody at all could cross. No, he was blindly following the orders given by the evil authority at best, and had his own pleasure in killing people at worst.
October 9, 2016
Yes Alan, people tend to blindly trust the authority.  There is this Milgram experiment I'm sure most of us have heard of. Also, the idea that people doing their job, whatever the job might be, are not morally responsible, is surprisingly widespread. If it was not, maybe there wouldn't be so many wars. What I also find interesting is that people judge someones character as negative, based on things that no one would normally relate to murder, and somehow extend this negative character to being responsible for a murder, as in: The husband was neglecting his wife, therefore he is a bad guy, and since he is a bad guy, he is also responsible that she was killed. While in fact, as someone pointed out already, he could not reasonably have expected that his actions, however ugly, might have led to her being killed .
October 9, 2016

There's a lot of information missing in the story - much as in real life, we make moral judgements despite our ignorance!

Perhaps the woman married the husband because of his successful career, and she never loved him at all?

Perhaps the lover lied to the woman and said he loved her, or perhaps it was just sex? Who knows!

Perhaps the boatman really needed the money, because his child was ill?

Perhaps the soldier was protecting the bridge from a female terrorist fitting the woman's description?

...we'll never know! Yet despite our ignorance we still judge :)

October 9, 2016

I never considered the woman as the responsible one because from the text we could see that she was left regularly and she felt lonely. It is true that more details are not given but I understood there was no explanation and she didn't know where his husband went and how long. 

Related to the soldier, I didn't find him the responsible one because we do not know if he was forbidding people to cross the bridge because there was a risk for the population. What if the town hall thought that there was a hidden bomb in the bridge that could blow out the whole village? What if he could not say anything not to risk people's safety? Maybe, if she crossed the river the whole village could have been destroyed. 

Talking about laws, I think it's rights. For instance, I have the right to drive my car safely, if there were not regulations (laws) we wouldn't care about the speed of our car, we would drive being drunk, we would not use the safety bell... I am reducing this only to driving but in life, we need some regulations to respect other people's rights. If there were not laws, society would be like a jungle, where the "law of the strongest" is applied.

* In Spanish "the law of the strongest" (la ley del más fuerte) applied to people,means that normally strong/cruel/violent people make their own rules and impose themselves to others, taking advantage of them and being abusive. 

October 9, 2016
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Persian (Farsi)
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), Persian (Farsi)