Friday, 9 June 2006

Automatic mis-translation

The Economist reports today on the prospect of a portable automatic translation machine - like Douglas Adams' "Babel fish", that you could stick in your ear - becoming a reality in the near future. I particularly enjoyed the example of machine translation of an Arabic text meaning "The White House confirmed the existence of a new bin Laden tape", rendered into English as "Alpine white new presence tape registered for coffee confirms Laden". This reminds me of the early days of Systran, when a letter beginning "Chère Madame" would come back in English starting "Expensive Madam". My favourite example of all time, however, is "nous avions soumis la proposition au Conseil", rendered as "we aeroplanes submitted the proposal to the Council".


At 10/6/06 01:12, Blogger Watashi said...

Ahaha, soo funny!
Anyway at least it gives us a big laughter.

Oops, it's midoli (not Kunoichi).

At 12/6/06 23:03, Blogger qaminante said...

I don't get Kunoichi anyway, I get 4 question marks... Yes these linguistic accidents amuse me, whether mistranslations or printing/typing errors, you know what they say about little things pleasing little minds!


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