Re: Translation (was Humor in technical writing)

Subject: Re: Translation (was Humor in technical writing)
From: Max Wyss <prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch>
To: Bernd Hutschenreuther <bernd -dot- hutschenreuther -at- net-linx -dot- de>
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 11:52:36 +0200

Bernd (and Barry),

Translation software is NO alternative to having translations done by
a native speaker. Period.

However, there are some tools around, which are called "Translation
Memories". These applications are essentially databases which keep a
log of your own translations on a phrase or sentence basis, and go
through your text and make their suggestions. There are some products
which are smart enough to recognize variables, such as dimensions,
and do take that into account.

HOWEVER, these tools are what it says, tools for the professional
translator. They provide suggestions the translator can keep or
change, and, as they have been fed by that translator, they keep the
style, and they also help for consistency. Also, if there is an
equivalent to a pun, a TM system would repeat the pun, as it is a
lookup of past events. And, as the TM system is based on phrases, the
result is pretty likely to be grammatically correct.

IMHO, the reason why the back-translation to English is not such a
big piece of scrap has to do with the fact that the German
translation is pretty much so. The German translation is using
English grammar and sentence structure, which returns into kind of
correct English sentences.

So, unless you have the feeling to produce a joke, or you want to
make a fool of yourself, never, ever, publish text translated by
"general purpose" translation software. Maybe use it for yourself to
try to get what is in the foreign language text, but you can be
assured, that there is a considerable chance that the "translation"
is the exact opposite of the original.

For humourous sake: when there was that big Starr report frenzy in
the US (which nobody outside that country understood anyway), and the
reports were published, someone at Altavista simply churned the
reports through their translation system (now known as Babelfish --
the real Babelfish may forgive them about that insult --) and
published them. Well, the whole world speaking the languages the
reports got translated into was ROFLing reading the results. The
highlight is that the President of the United States is adviced by a
cupboard (German: cabinet --> Schrank (which is a cupboard)).

Anyway, just my Zweiräppler...

Max Wyss
PRODOK Engineering
Low Paper workflows, Smart documents, PDF forms
CH-8906 Bonstetten, Switzerland

Fax: +41 1 700 20 37
e-mail: mailto:prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch

[ Building Bridges for Information ]


Barry Kieffer <bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com>

... translation software is a poor alternative to having translations
done by a native speaker.

That is exactly true, however, it may help sometimes to translate.

The translation software would never get a pun, a play on words, or the joke.

Yes, you are very right. But it produces a lot of new joke, you never expected.
You cannot use the results of pure translation software directly in
technical writing.

(I got some German translations, made automatically with translation
software, without any reworking. It was really funny.)

Barry, den Kieffer < bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com >
... Übersetzung Software schrieb, ist eine schlechte Alternative zum
Lassen von Übersetzungen durch einen Muttersprachler erfolgen.

Das ist genau zutreffend, jedoch kann es manchmal helfen zu übersetzen.

würde die Übersetzung Software nie einen Pun, ein Spiel auf Wörtern oder
den Witz erhalten.

Ja haben Sie sehr Recht. Aber sie produziert eine Menge neuer Witz, Sie
erwartete nie. Sie können nicht die Resultate der reinen Übersetzung
Software direkt im technischen Schreiben verwenden. (ich erhielt einige
deutsche Übersetzungen, automatisch gebildet mit Übersetzung Software, ohne
irgendwie zu überarbeiten. Sie war. wirklich lustig),

Barry, which Kieffer wrote < bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com >
... to translation software, is a bad alternative to leaving translations
via a native speaker to take place.

That is exactly applicable, however it can sometimes help to translate

the translation software a Pun, a play on words or the joke to never

You are very much right. But it produces a quantity new joke, you never
expected. They cannot use the results of the pure translation software
directly in technical writing (I kept some German translations, educated
with translation software, automatically without revising somehow. It was
really merry),

(The text was translated automatically to German and back to English.)


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