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Re: Changing the language of gnus menu entries

From: Joost Kremers
Subject: Re: Changing the language of gnus menu entries
Date: 26 Sep 2013 04:05:27 GMT
User-agent: slrn/pre1.0.0-18 (Linux)

Drew Adams wrote:
>> Well, the translation sucks. :-) Word order is so messed up that it's
>> often difficult to make heads or tails of a sentence...
> Often, or sometimes?  Difficult, perhaps, but not always impossible,
> unlike the case for someone who does not understand the source language.

Well, *I* would not have been able to understand enough to learn Emacs
basics from it.

(I should probably point out that German is not my native language
either. Though I've lived in Germany for almost ten years and my actual
native language, Dutch, is of course closely related to German.)

>> Such a translation would probably scare off more people than having no
>> translation at all.
> I doubt it.  That's quite an exaggeration.

Perhaps. But I was thinking of people who understand enough English to
get through e.g., the tutorial with some effort, who'd prefer a
translation in their own language and are then put off by the Google
Translate translation. It creates a bad first impression, which might
rub off on Emacs as a whole.

> Even someone such as yourself, whose English is excellent, should not be
> "scared off" by the translated text shown above.  You might laugh a bit,
> and you might scratch your head a bit here and there.

The English translation you provided was a lot better, I'll admit.
However, part of the problem is that the quality of the translation is
so unpredictable. Sometimes you get something that is quite usable,
other times it's, well, slightly less usable.

>> That's not entirely surprising, because French word order is much closer
>> to English (both are subject-verb-object), while German word order is
>> quite different and more complex (i.e., more difficult to get right
>> without human intervention).
> Sorry, I'm not convinced of that last part.  I used to be in charge of a
> group of professional translators who translated from French into English
> and German, among other languages.  I know they (including the Germans)
> would not agree with you that it is more difficult to translate into
> German because of its different word order (or for any other reason).
> No, their experience does not necessarily apply to automatic translation.

Yup, that was my point, hence the "without human intervention" part. For
a human, translating from English to French is not more or less
difficult than from English to German. For a human, word order is hardly
an issue, provided s/he is fluent in the relevant language. For a
computer, things are different, however.

> Google translation is not the same thing as having a professional translator
> concentrate on Emacs docs, of course, but it's not the same thing as
> automatic translation either.

I'm inclined to call any translation that is done by a computer
"automatic". The fact that Google has access to large parallel corpora
and probably has some very nifty machine learning algorithms to exploit
those corpora doesn't really change that fact. I'm not saying it doesn't
improve the translation, I'm sure it does, but it's still automatic IMO.

> I wonder how you might feel if the original Info doc were ONLY in Chinese
> or Japanese or Korean or Thai, and you had a choice between ONLY that or
> also a translation to German (or English or...)?  Think about it.  Think
> twice.

Rather than think, let's do a little experiment. For fun, I tried
translating a bit of Japanese. Taking the third paragraph from
<> (after the header "Emacsの思
想") and feeding it to Google Translate produces the following:

| And I should say first, but the "thought of Emacs" to speak here is
| what I personally made ​​up on its own. I have never as far as I know, I
| saw no one from telling "thought of Emacs", including Stallman. It will
| place for such Stallman continues to exercise toward the "spirit of
| freedom" is a great more his goal in particular, and said not to Ganchu
| small problem of such "thought of Emacs". I want to say anyway, is that
| ideological value is significantly lower because no one is sponsored by.
| Please take care only that point.

Which is complete gibberish to me. Not a coherent thought in sight.

> You point out that "key" is translated to the wrong kind of key.  Big deal.
> I pointed out that, for French, "sole" (for "sole exception") was translated
> to the sole of a shoe.  Good jokes.  But hardly roadblocks.

I once tried to find the German equivalent for the Arabic term «waziir
al-wuzaraa'» ('council of ministers') using Google Translate and was
baffled to see it translated as "Schrank" ('cupboard, closet')... I'll
leave it up to the reader to figure out around which corner Google was
thinking there. ;-)

> I think the result is generally USABLE,

And I think that the quality of the result is too unreliable. It'll be
useful sometimes, but completely unusable at other times.

Joost Kremers                                   address@hidden
Selbst in die Unterwelt dringt durch Spalten Licht

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