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Russian comments (3)

So, having used Google translate a bit much to work on Russian these days, I pulled out an old bilingual edition of Irina Ratushinskaya’s “Tale of Three Heads” — Russian on the right-hand pages, English on the left. My favorite story in there is “On the Meaning of Life”, and I laboriously typed the Russian first paragraph into a text editor, and fed it to the Oompa-Loompas in Mountainview. Here are the original text, the machine translation, and the printed translation by Diane Nemec Ignashev. You still need a person to translate literature. (The translation was published in New American, no. 5/6, 1986).

Original: Жил-был удав-вегетарьянец. Мясного он ничего в рот не брал, но не из убеждений каких-нибудь или идей, а так … Не хотелось. Да и как-то неловко было бы. Так что ел он б основном огурцы и бананы: на них было удобней натягиваться. Да и вообще материальной стороне жизни удав ыделял мало внимания. Потому что была у него всепоглощающая страсть, а уж вы сами можете себе представить, что это такое, когда страцть поглощает удава! Он любил смотреть на кроликов.

Machine translation: Once upon a boa-vegetaryanets. Meat he had in his mouth for quite awhile, but not from any belief or any ideas, as well … Did not want. Yes, and somehow it would be awkward. So he ate Used mainly cucumbers and bananas: they were more comfortable tense. And in general the material side of life boa paid little attention. Because it was his ruling passion, and only you yourself can imagine what that is, when passion absorbs boa! He liked to look at the rabbits.

Human translation: Once upon a time there lived a vegetarian boa constrictor. He never ever ate meat. Not out of moral conviction and for no particular reason, he simply didn’t. It just wouldn’t have seemed right. Instead, he ate only cucumbers and bananas; they were easier to swallow. Besides, the material things in life generally didn’t interest the boa constrictor. For, his all-consuming passion (and you can imagine what it’s like when passion consumes a boa constrictor!) was rabbit-watching.

This concludes a little foray into machine translation and mucking about, and I’ll return to my regularly scheduled programming of KDE and licensing shortly.

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2 Responses to “Russian comments (3)”

  1. Cyril Says:

    This specimen shows how poor machine translation is without (artificial) intelligence, and that won’t change unless there’ll be a revolution in theoretical computer science.

  2. mat69 Says:

    Good one!
    Gave me a laugh. :)