Re: How factual are second-hand translations?

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 09:50:36 MST

> "...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.

The problem with simple lookup is that it can't deal with new
coinages at all. If I told you your idea was a few spores
short of an outbreak, you'd know what I meant even though that's
not an idiom you could have possibly stored. Of course, that
/form/ is pretty cliche these days, but clearly humans can even
understand new forms of idioms.

For lots of gory and fascinating details about language
translation, I recommend Hofstadter's "Le Ton Beau de Marot".

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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