WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!?! ---> Re: Delivery Error Notification.

Chris Hind (chind@juno.com)
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 23:06:22 -0800

I keep getting tons of these messages. Is the mailinglist working

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>To: edward_maciocha@icpphil.navy.mil
>From: MBBS@BBS {MBBS: INT:extropians@extropy.org}
>Subject: LING: Language adequacy
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>Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 00:48:53 -0800
>To: extropians@extropy.org
>From: James Rogers <jamesr@best.com>
>Subject: LING: Language adequacy
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>At 01:43 PM 1/28/97 -0800, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
>>(1) The sample set of human languages is so small, and the evaluation
>>period so short, that I don't think one can draw any conclusions from
>>its present dominance. It just happened to be the language that was
>>used my the world's major imperial power, and later by the world's
>>leader in technology. To evaluate language as a technology itself, I
>>think it makes more sense to look at earlier cultures where it had more
>>obvious influence. Chinese comes out the winner there, and for some
>>good reasons, especially the writing system. It is far more efficient
>>than alphabetic systems: more words per page, fewer penstrokes per word,
>>faster to read and comprehend.
>Nonetheless, Chinese is a poor language for coding new concepts that are too
>far outside their existing concept set. One of the big problems faced by
>many Asian countries (especially less developed ones) is that most written
>language is translated *through* Chinese, even if neither the original nor
>the end translation were in Chinese.
>An example: When books are translated from English into Vietnamese, they
>are first translated into Chinese (even the Vietnamese-Americans do this!).
>The problem is that Chinese translations force every English concept and
>word into their symbol set, even if it has no equivalent. The Chinese
>language does poor distinction, especially when nouns are involved IMO. The
>translation from Chinese into Vietnamese is easy, but the result is very
>poor even though the languages map onto each other pretty well. Proper
>nouns are demolished. New conceptual containers are destroyed. "Software"
>becomes translated as "a soft thing" (like a pillow!) and "Frame Relay"
>makes no sense at all. "Frame" and "Relay" are broken apart and translated
>into their more mundane definitions which apparently must make sense in
>Chinese. Yet direct English-Vietnamese translations do not suffer this type
>of problem. Apparently the "translate through Chinese" thing is a really
>big issue in Asia right now because it is putting a lot of countries at a
>disadvantage in technology fields. Even most American book publishers
>translate through Chinese first. I understand there is a historical reason
>why this is, but I don't know what it is.
>English may not be very efficient, organized, or pretty, but it is a superb
>conceptual container, mostly for the same reasons. English descriptive
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"Risk: You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage
to lose sight of the shore."

Chris Hind (chind@juno.com) Upward, Outward, ACTION!
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