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TIP #91 - This tip was sent on the week: 28th May - 3th Jun, 2006

91 ESI PRO & Translation - Part VI

This tip applies to the following programs:

• ESI Professional

At the beginning of this series of Tips on Translation and Interpretation, we talked about three cases in which Interpretation would come in very handy for the English-speaking user

  1. The translation comes out wrong,
  2. The original text in English is ambiguous
  3. Everything is wrong, starting with the original text in English

Let’s see some examples of case (2), ambiguous phrases in English.


Contrary to what one may think under the first impression, the English language is very ambiguous. Unlike Spanish, where the ambiguities arise from the existence or non-existence of the subject in a sentence, in English they originate everywhere: verbs, adjectives, nouns, prepositions, conjunctions and even auxillary verbs can give way to an ambiguity. Most of the time, the human mind gets the true meaning, even though the phrase may still be ambiguous for the machine.


Here is a case in which the phrase is definitely ambiguous for both person and machine, unless the reader knows the story of May and her sister:

Mary and her sister May arrive on Sunday.

How would ESI translate this phrase? Or, how would You translate it?


Here is the result using ESI:



The user that is strictly English-speaking will not notice that the Spanish translation changes the meaning completely. It does not interpret that the two sisters will certainly arrive on Sunday, but that “May Arrive” that day, and this notion is emphasized by capitalizing the verb.


It is fitting to indicate that capitalizing words is a habit typical of many persons. It is used to give emphasis. But this radically confuses the machine – which has no knowledge of human habits.


Therefore, a good tip for the translator is: “Never use capital letters in words that do not require them, and, on the contrary, place them on those that do need them.”


Let’s see now how ESI interprets this phrase in the Interpretation mode →

Mary and her sibling are coming by on Sunday

You know something is wrong because the Interpretation leaves out the sister’s name “May”. This should make the writer think better and force him to write it in a less ambiguous way, for example:

Mary and her sister, May, arrive on Sunday.

Or, if you want to say the other meaning:

Mary and her sister may arrive on Sunday.

Let’s see how ESI interprets each of these variations:


Case 1

→ Mary and her sister, May, arrive on Sunday.


→ Mary and her sibling, May, come by on Sunday.


→ María y su hermana, Mayo, llegan el domingo.


Case 2

→ Mary and her sister may arrive on Sunday.


→ Mary and her sibling are coming by on Sunday.


→ María y su hermana pueden llegar el domingo.



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