I have been accused in the past by a friend of being “arrogant”, of wanting to show off my language proficiency by correcting the ignorant mistakes of non-learners who wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Maybe she’s right. But it is not because I want to “hao lian”. I strongly believe that if you don’t understand a language, then don’t act smart and try to pretend like you know it. Imagine if you have been studying Mandarin or Malay all your life, and you suddenly come across someone who is using the language incorrectly. Wouldn’t you feel obligated to correct them? Wouldn’t it reflect badly on you as a student if you don’t correct them?
And for crying out loud, please do not use Google Translate to try and create sentences for you. Machine translations are good if you want to translate a single word or a short phrase. Anything that approaches a full sentence however, and you will start to encounter two severe limitations: it is impossible for a machine to translate the context of a sentence properly, and sometimes they even select the wrong type of vocabulary.
To drive home my point of how bad machine translations can be, I strongly urge everyone to read this fascinating article about China-English: