2008-05-18

Translating: To the second page of the street

There is of course no substitute for a careful translation by an attentive and well informed human. The Google translation tool does not pretend to be such a substitute, and anyone who has used it knows that it is not one: the results are often comical. Nonetheless it is useful for getting a rough sense of something you might not be able to understand otherwise. And now you can get a rough sense in ten more languages -- Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian and Swedish. So enjoy.

5 comments:

Owen said...

I've been restraining myself but no explanation yet for the origin of the title - any clues? Source language?

Eric Gordy said...

It's one of the selections from a constantly expanding and circulating list of hilariously literal translations called "English by Wolf." Next to the translation of "dapace" as "yes, little duck," one of my favourites is the translation of "da te prevedem na drugu stranu ulice" (or literally, to help you to the other side of the street) as "to translate you to the second page of the street."

But these things die on explanation. Best to just put "English by Wolf" into a search engine and have a look at some of the hundreds of versions around.

Owen said...

Beyond the Howler - thanks for the explanation. You've led me to a language I've not come across before - Gurage. "Language by Wolf" took me to Berhane Mariam Sahle Sellassie, an Ethiopian author who wrote his first novel in Chaha, a Gurage dialect, which was translated into *English by Wolf* Leslau. You never know where you'll end up with the internet.

Oliver said...

And the funny thing is that you cannot translate directly from B92 because Google sends the message that it does not understand Serbian. But if you copy the B92 text directly into the google translator you get a nice translation from Croatian, oh no, Serbian into German.

Eric Gordy said...

Wow, and I had assumed that they wrote Croatian because they had not set it to do Cyrillic. Let the software do the thinking, eh?