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Fish Jokes February 2, 2007

Posted by Edwin in French, Humour.

I have seen many bloggers providing Babel Fish links to instantly translate their blogs into many languages. Here is a piece of advice from me: Don’t!

Those who have used Babel Fish before should know that it does not provide accurate translations. Well, not even close! We have to understand that the service is intended to give readers only rough translations of the texts. It is by no means a service to produce official translated documents or web pages. Despite the advance of modern technologies, we still need to rely on human to do these tasks.

Not only do the Fish translations often turn out to be inaccurate, sometimes they even turn out to be hilariously so. Your page could become a potential target for readers to poke fun at.

Sometimes, it is your blog that is not providing the correct information, and the Fish translates it based on the wrong assumption. For instance, once in my now-retired French blog, I had my language set to French, but my blogging application was not flexible enough to translate everything on the page. There was still the label “About Me” displayed in English. I provided a link to translate my page into English. The Fish thought the label was a French phrase and translated it into “Butt Me”!

Do you really know what it is actually saying in the translated versions of your blog? Even if you happen to know all targeted languages, do you have the time to proof read your blog under each translation for each update? Say if the Fish translates a word incorrectly in one language, are you willing to change the original word just to fix that translation? Remember, you still have to make sure the change doesn’t ‘break’ the other translations. What a pain!

I have another ‘fish joke’. A while ago, I came across a news article in French from the web, what had a line:

“Les Chinois qui ont dû payer une taxe d’entrée à leur arrivée au Canada ont reçu jeudi les excuses officielles du gouvernement canadien.”

I plugged it into the Fish, and out it came:

“The Chinese who had to pay a tax of entry to their arrival in Canada received Thursday the official excuses of the Canadian government.”

There must be lots of ‘fish jokes’ out there. If you have one, please feel free to share with me. I would love to here it!



1. Fun With Global Translator « Tower of Confusion - February 7, 2007

[…] Fun With Global Translator February 7, 2007 Posted by edwinlaw in Humour. trackback Here is a follow-up on my recent post “Fish Jokes“. […]

2. frenchninja - February 8, 2007

I used to play with Babel Fish and what I found was even funnier was not just translating from one language to the other, but from one language to the other and then back again.

For instance:

“The dog could have translated this sentence better.” to Japanese:
Then back from Japanese to English:
“Perhaps the dog it translated this sentence well” – not quite the same thing, in fact it’s quite the opposite of what I’m trying to say, i.e that the dog could’ve done a better job!
Hours of entertainment 🙂

3. Statistical Machine Translation « Tower of Confusion - January 7, 2008

[…] is the original French text quoted from my past post last year on machine-translation humours: Les Chinois qui ont dû payer une taxe d’entrée à […]

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