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Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between 5 different languages? The authors of the Systran translation software probably never intended this application of their program. As of September 2003, translation software is almost good enough to turn grammatically correct, slang-free text from one language into grammatically incorrect, barely readable approximations in another. But the software is not equipped for 10 consecutive translations of the same piece of text. The resulting half-English, half-foreign, and totally non sequitur response bears almost no resemblance to the original. Remember the old game of “Telephone”? Something is lost, and sometimes something is gained. Try it for yourself!

Here’s a couple of mine:

Original English Text:
I don’t like to wear pants.

Translated to French:
Je n’aime pas porter le pantalon.

Translated back to English:
I do not like to carry the trousers.

Translated to German:
Ich mag nicht die Hose tragen.

Translated back to English:
I may not wear the trousers.

Translated to Italian:
Non posso portare i pantaloni.

Translated back to English:
I cannot carry the pants.

Translated to Portuguese:
Eu não posso carregar as calças.

Translated back to English:
I cannot load the pants.

Translated to Spanish:
No puedo cargar los pantalones.

Translated back to English:
I cannot load the trousers.

Original English Text:
Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say Yes!

Translated to French:
Rayonnez, quand quelqu’un vous demande que si vous êtes un dieu, vous
dites oui !

Translated back to English:
Radiate, when somebody asks you that if you are a god, you say yes!

Translated to German:
Strahlen Sie aus, wenn jemand Sie fragt, daß, wenn Sie ein Gott sind,
Sie ja sagen!

Translated back to English:
Radiate, if someone asks you that, if you are a God you say!

Translated to Italian:
Irradiisi, se qualcuno vi chiede quello, se siete un dio dite!

Translated back to English:
Irradiisi, if someone asks you that one, if you are a God you say!

Translated to Portuguese:
Irradiisi, se alguém lhe pedir esse, se você for um deus você diz!

Translated back to English:
Irradiisi, if somebody to ask for this to it, if you he will be a god
you says!

Translated to Spanish:
¡Irradiisi, si alguien pedir esto él, si usted él es un dios usted
dice!

Translated back to English:
Irradiisi, if somebody to request this he, if you he are a God you you
say!

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