Re: How factual are second-hand translations?

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Tue Jan 08 2002 - 23:36:44 MST

> >"The Spirit is willing but
> > the flesh is weak" to Russian by a translation machine. The
> > result supposedly came out to something like, "The Vodka is good
> > but the meat is rotten."...> - samantha

Things have gotten better. See

Here's an idea. The software based translators certainly have
their weaknesses, one of which is that they do not deal well
with common expressions and phrases, such as the spirit is
willing but the flesh is weak.

Suppose we had a list of special cases that the software
would look for in common speech, then translate as special
cases. A few examples I can think of would be

"...six of one, half dozen of the other" = identical.
"...wassup?" = hello
"...have a nice day" = goodbye, get outta my face, etc.

Computers are now fast enough to tear thru a jillion of these
kinds of special phrases that might trip up the literal translators.
In common English speech, for instance, a computer translation
might puzzle a foreign language speaker if the program did
not understand the several different meanings of the term
"fucking," depending on it's position in the sentence.

When used before a verb, it is translated "with enthusiasm."
When used before a noun, it is translated "undesireable."
When used before an adjective, it is translated "extremely."
When used before a period, comma or pronoun, it is translated
"in the process of copulating."

There are likely plenty of better examples, but our brains
somehow figure out what speech means, so it seems we
can put comparable or perhaps better speech interpretation
mechanisms into software. spike

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:33 MST