Portugese whispers

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Thu Apr 22 03:21:30 EDT 2004


Just for kicks, I tried writing my actual message in English, then passing
it through Babelfish twice (English to Portugese, Portugese back to English)
to see how close my mangling was to what a machine would have done. Here is
the result:

"Charlie, Many gratefulness for the interesting interview. To The Ven: sorry
to steal its idea, aid of I couldn't it. You can imagine me to laugh thus
that hardly she had rips in my eyes. Love of I'd to read Diana Wynne Jones'
new book "Conrad's Fate", as.well.as the most been slow registers for
professor J.R.R. Tolkein of the south African, gentlemen of "Oh of the
Aneis" e gentleman of rings. Debtor for this pertinent contribution to the
list."

My grandfather was a linguist/philosopher/mathematician who did some very
early work involving automatic translation (mostly on the theory side). He
used to tell the joke of an epigram that was machine-translated from English
to Russian and back to English. The original was, "The spirit is willing,
but the flesh is weak" - after retranslation from Russian, "The vodka is
good, but the steak is so-so".

Gili


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