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paul_whatever
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And?
paul_whatever   4/24/2015 4:20:36 PM
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The computer's translation surpasses much of the content I've seen from our ESLs (and many native-born engineers as well).

Clive
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Re: And?
Clive"Max"Maxfield   4/24/2015 5:15:02 PM
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@Paul: ...much of the content I've seen from our ESLs...

What's an ESL?

AlPothoof
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Re: What's [an] ESL
AlPothoof   4/24/2015 6:11:12 PM
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English as a second language; i.e. not native english speakers.

However, based on my interactions as an American with both British and East Indians, native english-speakers aren't doing any better.

Having worked in Mexico for a couple of years, I have seen some really strange translations but what can you expect when you use the same word for both "stop" and "tall" ("alto").

David Ashton
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Lost in translation
David Ashton   4/24/2015 8:23:19 PM
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I do occasional French to English translations of electronics articles.  The technical parts are easy, but occasionally an author will chuck in a bit of idiom, and if it's something I don't know, that can be the hardest part.   I used to have a book "Francais Parlé par Adrienne" which I found abandoned on the floor of a tube station in London.  Full of French idiom:

Gimmick-1-Francais-Parle-By-Adrienne-Penner-Michel-Dolot-9780091271411

GREAT book.  I lent it to some @#$%&* who never returned it, then emigrated, but I see there are a few available online, so I think I must buy another one.  One phrase I remember from it is "il m'a posé un lapin" which means "He stood me up".  Google translate gets this almost right, omitting only the "up".  It has got a lot better over the years, but still falls down on a lot of things.

Bit off topic but have you seen the Shakespearean Insulter?  A mix of true Shakespeare quotes and ones made up in his style.  And sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference.

 

betajet
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Kess K'say Soo-ree?
betajet   4/24/2015 8:55:58 PM
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I enjoy reading subtitles even if I'm pretty good with the language.  One of my favorite subtitle problems is seeing how the hapless subtitler tries to deal with the formal versus informal "you" which exists in Romance languages but not English.  In French, one uses vous to speak to adult strangers and as a plural "you".  One uses the familiar singular form tu to speak to close adult friends, children, prostitutes, and God.  Transitioning from calling a friend vous into tu is a big deal, and switching back to vous is equally dramatic.  When this happens in a French movie, there's no good way to express the concept literally in the subtitles so it's interesting seeing what the subtitler ends up with.

[Subject line is from a Krazy Kat cartoon, spoken by Mrs. Kwakk Wakk -- the local quidnunc -- to Ignatz Mouse.   "Kess K'say Soo-ree" is a phonetic spelling of "Qu'est-ce que c'est, Souris?" which means "What's up, Mouse?"  French spelling breaks one's feet.]


David Ashton
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Re: Kess K'say Soo-ree?
David Ashton   4/24/2015 11:11:48 PM
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@Betajet...Subtitles....did you ever see this one...hilarious...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIE-Y_HJWM8

David Ashton
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Lost in translation....
David Ashton   4/25/2015 3:15:42 AM
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I used to work in an airline comms centre and one of the things we did was print out and type in messages for very small airline offices whose traffic did not warrant a teleprinter connection.  We got an Aeroflot office in town and one day one of the Russian employees appeared, saying he was there to collect the cables.  Being a techie I immediately thought of bits of wire, and could not understand what he was talking about.   Only after a couple of minutes did I make the connection: Cables = telegrams, messages.  He must have thought I was a complete idiot.  Not far off, I suppose (thought I'd get that in before someone else did..... :-)

BrainiacV
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Classic mistranslation story
BrainiacV   4/27/2015 1:43:47 PM
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I heard one of the early language translation programs with given "The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak." Came back with "The wine was agreeable, but the meat was rotten."

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Classic mistranslation story
Max The Magnificent   4/27/2015 1:48:41 PM
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@BrainiacV: The wine was agreeable, but the meat was rotten.

This reminds me of the 1883 book English as She Is Spoke by Pedro Carolino – a man who, unfortunately, had little acquaintance with the English language.

Intended as a Portuguese-English phrase book, the actual translations in English as She Is Spoke are almost invariably incoherent or inappropriate. The book's saving grace is that the results are often strangely humorous.

In his Book of Heroic Failures, Stephen Pile comments "Is there anything in conventional English which could equal the vividness of 'To craunch a marmoset'?" And Mark Twain's view of English as She Is Spoke was that "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."

betajet
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The Two Milords
betajet   4/27/2015 4:34:10 PM
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My favorite example of terrible translation is Stephen Leacock's "The Two Milords", a one-act play ["piece in one scene"] that's in English (sort of) but reads as a terrible word-for-word translation from French.  Stephen Leacock is Canadian, so fluent in both.

For example, when the first Milord asks his servant Jean to bring up the evening paper, he says "make me mount the journal of this evening", a humorous translation of montez-moi le journal de ce soir.  He adds "mount it the whole suite" [montez le tout de suite = "bring it up right away"].

Really hillarious if you know both French and English.  French has many words called faux amis [false friends] that look like English words but mean something quite different.  "The Two Milords" uses them at every opportunity.

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