05/10/2010

Lost in translation - part II

As I wrote here, odd things can happen when applying automatic translation to specialized texts.

The other day I happened to come to one of my own pages in English, with Google translator turned on. Oooops...
The translator is stupid - it just does what it is told. So, if it is told to translate from Swedish to English, it tries to do that, regardless of which laguage the text was written in.

Like this, for instance (using the same examples as in the last post): 
The Swedish text:
"Såhär gick jag tillväga för att konstruera sjalen:
Båda lagren skulle vara tuskaft. För att väva två lager tuskaft behöver man fyra skaft. Eftersom sjalen har två partier går det åt totalt åtta skaft.
Jag väljer att solva de orangea trådarna på jämna skaft (2 och 4 för det ena partiet, 6 och 8 för det andra), och solvar alltså de lila trådarna på de udda skaften. För att lättare komma åt att solva väljer jag att ha partiet med de flesta trådarna på skaften närmast mig. Där båda lagren överlappar solvar jag varannan lila, varannan orange."
becomes, when asked to be translated from (supposed) English -> Swedish:
"Sahar Gick JAG tillväga för Själen ATT konstruera:
Bada lagren skulle Vara tuskaft. För ATT Vava Två lager tuskaft behöver man Fyra skaft. Eftersom Själen HAR Två Partier gar DET Åt Totalt Åtta skaft.
JAG väljer ATT solva de orangea trådarna In jämna skaft (2 and 4 för DET ENA partiet, 6 and 8 för DET Andra), and Solvår alltså de lila trådarna in de udda skaften. För ATT lättare Komma Åt ATT solva väljer JAG ATT ha Partiet Med de flesta trådarna In skaften närmast mig. Dar bada lagren överlappar Solvår JAG varannan lila, varannan orange."
(I wonder where all the CapItaL LettERs came from? And why some, but not all, "å" become "a"? And... I know what "själ" is (soul) - but why should a sjal (in supposed English) become a själ (in Swedish)?)

The English version: (translated/written by myself):
"This is how I did it:
Both layers were to be plain weave. To weave two layers of plain weave we need four shafts. As the shawl has two blocks we need a total of eight shafts.
I choose to thread the orange ends on odd shafts (1 and 3 for one block, 5 and 7 for the other). The purple ends get threaded on the even-numbered shafts. Where both
warps/layers coincide I place the colours one-by-one."
becomes, when translated from (supposed) Swedish -> English:
"This is how I did it:
Both layers were to ask plain weave. To weave two layers of plain weave We Need four shafts. As The Shawl hock two blocks we need a total of eight shafts.
I choose to thread the orange ends on odd shafts (1 and 3 for one block, 5 and 7 for the Other). The purple goat threaded ends on the even-numbered shafts. Somewhere
bothering warps / layers coincide in place the colors one-by-one."

- we have lost the warehouses and wires (from the other post), but have instead got both goats and hocks. And gained a different syntax.
Being a non-native speaker, I can't, of course, ever claim to write perfect (not even "good") English - but I'm not so very sure that Google can do it better...

Conclusion: make sure you have control over the "auto-translator" before giving up on a strange text, that the author claims to be in a specific language!

(A bonus example, from the bottom of the same article. Original text:
"A word of warning: do not make too long warps! The fact that the web has single layers at the sides, but double in the middle, will disturb the warp tension. I had problems already after about 150 cm woven - the sides got slacker than the middle."
becomes:
"A word of warning: Do Not make too long warps! The fact thats the web speed single layer at the sides, But DoubleClick in the Middle, Will disturb the warp tension. I Had problems Already after about 150 cm woven - the sides slightly slacker than option-the-middle."
I know what warp speed is, but web speed? And *where* did the double-click come from??? And what is option-the-middle?)

1 comment:

Laura said...

Ah - the dangers of translations. Very funny! :D
cheers,
Laura