Posts Tagged ‘language’

Some translations are hard.

Some translations are hard.

When first exploring the majesty that is the internet oh so many years ago I discovered online translators. This always intrigued me and I sought to find the most roundabout why to translate a phrase for spanish class. Usually I used german, japanese, chinese and maybe russian as intermediaries. Then taking the final spanish phrase I would run it through to english to see what it said. Occasionally it was humorous but more often then not it was just bland.

I went on with my life and occasionally needed something translation but more often then not it was something to english or a phrase into another language (for spelling things like gute nacht). I forgot completely about my attempts at iterative translations, until today.

My friend posted a link on Facebook to Translation Party, a site that takes an english phrase, translates it (via Google I believe) to japanese, back to english and so on until an equilibrium phrase is reached. This is a simple but wonderful idea and it is fun to play around with. After a few minutes I discovered that it is possible to break the site in two ways.

1. Find on unstable phrase that cannot reach equilibrium (What is on second).

2. A phrase eventually degrades into a string of non-sensical letters (My hovercraft is full of eels).

Here are some results from it:

  • Good sir, this is a wonderful idea -> Well, it’s a good idea (Some become internal conversations)
  • Never memorize what you can look up -> How do I know my heart? (Unstable)
  • Where is my hat? -> Hat? (In this case it actually worked as an equilibrium phrase between the two languages)

Automatic translations are just fun to play with. It would be neat to choose a third intermediary language (English -> Spanish -> Japanese -> Spanish -> English). Then again that might not give sensical results.

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This is not Pavement.

This is not Pavement.

Twice in the past week I have had discussions about the phrase “new and improved”, mostly starting by someone saying that an item cannot be both. Let us look at this.

The way I see this phrase is that an object can hold the characteristics of new as well as the characteristics of improved.

If I have a drawer full of forks that are all used and slightly worn and someone gives me an identical model fork but right from the factory it is then a new fork. Even though I have many like it, this one has not been uesd.

Now if I take an existing fork and tape a guiding laser along the tines the fork is very much improved.

So if someone gives me a new from the factory fork that is the same as all the rest, except that it now has a guiding laser would it not then be new and improved?

I can see where the phrases can be contradictory and it is really all tied up in how the word “new” is interpreted. If it is read as being the first ever made or never before experienced then something cannot be new and improved. If improvements can only be made on existing items and new items cannot have existing before then there is indeed a contradiction.

But if I improve something in a new way then this particular object is new by improvement. Wouldn’t that be new and improved?

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