Monday, April 02, 2007


I'm classifying this post as an 'idgit, though it's not the result of a funny web quiz. And I figure I owe my dedicated readers (hah!) an extra post today, having written nothing over the weekend while I was traveling.

There were several new folks who joined CelloBloggers over the weekend, including one who blogs in Japanese. Guanaco explored some options for doing a machine translation of his blog into English, with some success. We would also like to have ready translations for other non-English cello bloggers we've located. Nothing like the optimism of the uninformed.

So today, having returned to my 21st century computer I was doing some reading about the promise and pitfalls of machine translations, and I ran across a site whose sole purpose is to demonstrate the entertainment value of translating a phrase from English to another language and back again. Here is the phrase I tried, and the results:

Original English Text:
the piece we played at orchestra rehearsal yesterday aggravated my tennis elbow

Translated to Japanese:

Translated back to English:
Us the part which idled in the orchestra where the rehearsal increases yesterday my tennis elbow

Translated to Chinese:

Translated back to English:
We wasted time in the orchestra rehearse yesterday to add my tennis elbow components

Translated to French:
Nous avons perdu le temps dans l'orchestre préparons hier pour ajouter mes composants de coude de tennis

Translated back to English:
We wasted time in the orchestra prepare yesterday to add my components of elbow of tennis

Translated to German:
Wir vergeudeten Zeit im Orchester uns vorbereiten gestern, meine Bestandteile des Winkelstücks von Tennis hinzuzufügen

Translated back to English:
We wasted time in the orchestra us prepare yesterday to add my constituents of the elbow of tennis

Translated to Italian:
Abbiamo sprecato il tempo nell'orchestra che noi ci prepariamo ieri per aggiungere i miei costituenti del gomito di tennis

Translated back to English:
We have wasted the time in the orchestra that we prepare ourselves yesterday in order to add my constituent ones of the tennis elbow

Translated to Portuguese:
_ nós t desperdiç tempo orchestra que nós prepar nos ontem a fim adicion meu constituent tênis cotovelo

Translated back to English:
_ we t desperdiç time orchestra that we to yesterday prepar in the end adicion mine constituent tennis elbow

Translated to Spanish:
_ nosotros orquesta del tiempo del desperdiç de t esa nosotros a ayer prepar en el codo constitutivo del tenis de la mina del adicion del final

Translated back to English:
_ we orchestra of the time of desperdiç of t that we to prepar yesterday in the constituent elbow of the tennis of the mine of the addition of the end

If you are as easily amused as I am, check out Lost in Translation.


Funky Smith said...

Elbow of tennis is pretty funny!

Guanaco said...

When I retranslated my last entry back into English it was almost incomprehensible.

There are many things in the Japanese blogs that I can't quite figure out. For example, I don't understand the intent of the translated word, "gauche". Also, "repel the cello" instead of "play the cello" is funny. It's sort of like the translation of the spanish phrase "tocar el cello" into "touch the hoop".

Still, with patience and practice, I was able to spend some time today reading Yoshioka's and Goshu's blogs. They have been having an interesting parallel discussion about these same oddities of the "machine translations".

Also, there were several comments on how our blogs are so similar to theirs as we describe our struggles to learn and improve. (Many Japanese can read an speak english, while so few of us can read theirs - or any other language for that matter.)

We are fortunate that the BabelFish and Google translators (primitive as they are) have at least cracked open the language barrier between our cultures - even if only opaquely.

[I setup pipes to translate each of the non-english blogs and fed them into CelloBlogger.]