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 TIP #145   This tip was sent on the week: 13th - 19th Jan, 2008

Translation Options

This Tip applies to the following products: Translator Professional Plus 5.0

A little while ago we compared translation with snorkeling.

Snorkeling is very simple. You don’t need much equipment in shallow waters. But…can you really trust that the water is safe and shallow?

Our experience in translation tells us that there are no safe waters in linguistics. These can turn dangerous at a moment’s notice and without warning.

There are myriads of underwater caves, traps and pools that will trap you the moment you least expect. Let’s see this “simple” phrase:

“Amamos a esta criatura”

What could be simpler than this? Nevertheless, when translating this phrase, using any available translator on the Internet, we get the following:

“We love this creature”

This is an ambiguous construction---to say the least. “Creature” in English refers to any living being, including an animal, whereas “criatura” in Spanish is mainly a child, a baby. In other words, in the translation the child becomes a “living being or animal.”

Furthermore, the verb conjugation “amamos” can be interpreted in the present tense (we love) as well as in the past tense (we loved).

There are two ambiguities in this phrase, which is why presenting only one result is offering the user only a partial (and biased) solution.

Translator Professional Plus immediately perceives the duality of the meanings and presents the user with TWO alternatives:

  1. We loved this creature
  2. We love this creature

Let us choose alternative (2) pressing the button “Better Choice”. We now see two new options on screen:

  1. We love this creature
  2. We love this child

The other options of present vs. past tenses are no longer presented, as they have already been resolved by the User. In this manner, the number of options displayed on screen is drastically reduced for greater ease of operation.

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