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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Literal Sign

There's nothing like travel to make you appreciate being literate being able to read. Or the limits of Google Translate


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...so we can all read more.



11 comments:

  1. Was this an actual sign (and if yes, what does it really say?) or did you make it up? :)

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    1. I don't recognize the script, and the second line of that script looks like an artificial script only to fulfill task of showing how signs in Asian countries are sometimes accompanied with bizarre English translation

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    2. I assumed that the original would have been "beware of the goat" or "danger: rutting elk"

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    3. Looks like Tibetan.

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  2. What do you mean by "literate" here? Just because someone makes a translation fail on a sign doesn't mean they're not literate, just that they're not fluent in whatever language they're translating to...

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    1. I'm sure it's about not able to understand the foreign writing making them appreciative of being able to read.

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  3. I think it is also about understanding the context. Especially in China we encountered weird and really funny translations, because their language have so many homonyms, and they picked to translate the wrong one.

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  4. I'm old enough to have had to do translations in the pre-digital, pre-Google age, when our oracles were thick dictionaries, the thicker the better. One of the most important lessons we had to learn was how to use those dictionaries and how to select which of the multiple translation options given for the word we were looking up was the best for our context. I suppose what Malachi's cartoon this week reminds us is that there is an art to that selection process and that maybe (hopefully!) humans are still a step ahead of computers on this. Certainly, if a computer-generated random selection process is used, the results can be anything from strange to hilarious. I'm thinking here of a French translation I discovered on the Net of a Scottish folk song, "Mairi's Wedding". In this traditional song from the islands, the bride is wished all kinds of good things: herring, oats, "plenty bonny bairns (beautiful children) as well/ That's the toast for Mairi". The translation was, in fact, OK until the last line, which was translated as: "C'est le pain grillé pout Marie". Hopefully she had it with marmalade and a good cup of Scottish breakfast tea!

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