OT: rambles about translation

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Mon Sep 20 16:34:06 EDT 2004


I confirm the Russian to English version, and the punchline I know is "The
vodka is good, but the meat is so-so". FWIW, my grandfather (Yehoshua
Bar-Hillel) founded the Machine Translation lab at MIT, so I think the
version of the joke that I know is likely to be close to the source - though
I'm still not sure whether it's actually a true story or just an urban
legend.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dwj at suberic.net [mailto:owner-dwj at suberic.net]On Behalf Of Kyla
Tornheim
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2004 8:22 PM
To: dwj at suberic.net
Subject: Re: OT: rambles about translation


On Mon, 20 Sep 2004, Otter Perry wrote:

>
> On Monday, September 20, 2004, at 08:55 AM, Margaret Ball wrote:
>
> > And I suppose everyone here has heard the old one (dating from the
> > very early days of machine translation) about what happened when they
> > ran "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" through the
> > English-to-Russian program and then back into English?
>
> The vodka is good, but the beef is lousy.

The way I heard it--although that may have been English to Chinese and
back to English--was "The wine is good, but the meat is spoiled."

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