TIP # 33 - This tip was sent on the week: 27th Mar- 2nd Apr, 2005
This tip applies to the following programs:
Using Interactive Translation to Detect Blunders
For the past two weeks we talked about the impossibility of correctly translating badly drafted texts, both in English and Spanish. We received a huge number of requests from our subscribers asking us when our Contextual Spell Checker was going to be available.
This tells us that bad writing is a generalized problem in both languages and that a program such as the one we described will be of great assistance, not only to translators but to anyone who communicates by writing.
And, who doesn’t communicate this way?
Let’s deal this week with another side of the issue. That is, let’s try to look at the problem from another perspective. If you are obtaining very bad translations, that would indicate a high probability of your original text not being sufficiently explicit. Now, with your Interactive mode, you can correct some of these instances, and –if you’re lucky— this could also indicate to you where the ‘guilty’ grammatical construction is located.
This is exactly what happened in an example sent by one of our readers. He was asking us why he got this odd translation:
Original English text:A laced band around your arm is foolish if you are dressing formal
Translation:Una banda musical atada alrededor de su brazo es estúpida si usted se viste formal.
Una banda musical…A music band…tied around one’s arm…?
Where is this crazy translation coming from? Quite a mystery until you start analyzing the way the sentence is constructed.
The sentence literally states that the band is foolish. Not the act of tying a band around your arm, but the band itself is being qualified as foolish.
Now, ESI has in its databases that the adjective “foolish” qualifies mainly persons and acts. Therefore, it chooses band as meaning a group of persons, and displays “music band”.
The sentence should be more explicitly drafted as: A laced band around your arm is a foolish thing if you are dressing formal
In any case, you can use the Interactive Mode to change the meaning of band in the sentence, regardless of how it is drafted. If ESI chose meaning #2 (group of musicians) instead of meaning #1 (fess or ribbon), simply click on the first tag (fess) and your translation will automatically display band as ribbon in Spanish.