Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 20 July 2012

Adventures in machine translation

Every morning, our hotel in the Stubaital would give us an overview of the day's weather and some suggestions for the day's activities. One day the English version on our breakfast table proposed a walk to look at the monastery bodice - an intriguing prospect, till the German teachers of English on the neighbouring table pointed out that the German for "bodice" was more or less the same as the name of a village further down the valley. We also had suggestions for "fastidious mountain routes", and one of the mountain lodges in the area (the Oberrissh├╝tte, if you're interested) was translated (semantically if not semiologically correctly) as "the upper crack shack".

Machine translation still has a long way to go (as any fule kno). Likewise, perhaps, the idea that a suitable deterrent for drivers tempted to speed would be a simple life-size photograph of a policeman, safely padlocked to a lamp-post.

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