Archive for Translation

An eccentric translation of the bible

[This is a guest post by IA]

Speaking of religion and language, among the various 'sacred name Bibles' the most interesting I've seen is called the Literal English Version. (Though there is certainly nothing 'literal' about it in the sense of Young's Literal Translation.) It's online here.
 
Here are some quotes from it.

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Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 5

Serious questions about "religion" in Sinitic

Below the fold is for advanced specialists in Chinese philology, theology, and lexicography.  Even for them, it is recommended that readers prepare themselves by reviewing "Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 4" (7/4/16).

[This is a guest post by IA]

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Non-defined flower

This is a recent instagram post of the Vietnamese singer Suni Ha Linh.

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AI and real-time translation in Korea

Speaking of Korean translation and AI, as we did in recent posts (see "Selected readings"), let us take a look at the latest developments in Korea:

New AI-based translation tools make their way into everyday life in Korea

AI equipped with natural language processing software, which allows it to interpret human language in various contexts, is gaining the most attraction among mainstream users among all AI services

Jung Yu-gyung, Hankyoreh (2024-04-23)

More and more, AI is becoming a part of daily life:

On Monday, SK Telecom unveiled its AI-based translation program “TransTalker,” which offers real-time interpretation for 13 languages, including Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese and Indonesian. Lotte began testing the translation service on Friday through its information desks on the first floor of Lotte Department Store's Avenuel Jamsil and on the first floor of Lotte World Mall. Both locations receive over a thousand visits from foreign tourists every day. Lotte has reported that the majority of users are surprised at the effectiveness and clarity of the interpretative service.

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More on Mongolian and Kalmyk Studies

One of our last posts was on a German Mongolist named Julius Klaproth (1783-1835) who was a specialist on Kalmyk.  This prompted a regular reader to send the following interesting account about another German Mongolist who was also an expert on the Kalmyks and their language, Nicholas Poppe (1897-1991):

From what I understand, the Russians confiscated the Kalmyk's cattle in WWII, which pushed them to collaborate with the Germans (who were then close to Stalingrad). Nicholas Poppe, the well-known Russian linguist of Mongolian, who was of German ethnicity and (I understand) had a relative among the invading Germans, served as an interpreter and eventually had to flee to the West because of this. Stalin took out a savage revenge on the Kalmyks for their betrayal.

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Ace love

Photograph of an artistic arrangement on the wall of a tea shop in Philadelphia's Chinatown.

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Luggage tags with (hidden) sewing kit

Chinese not necessary to use this marvelous dual purpose device.

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Auto-translated subtitles from auto-generated subtitles

Mark Metcalf learned something new this Monday morning: YouTube not only provides subtitles, but if the subtitles haven't been created in English, it can generate/translate them on the fly – at least for German. Doesn't seem to be available for Chinese yet.

Select 'CC' at the bottom left of the right side of the video window menu bar to auto-generate the German subtitles. Then click on the gear icon and select auto-translate, from which pick English. You should see English subtitles in near real-time.
 
The results are mind-boggling:  fast as greased lightning and impressively accurate.
Mark tried it out on this interview with the Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča at the Wiener Staatsoper about her role as Kundry in Wagner's »Parsifal«.  Mark noted that the auto-subtitle generator / translator seems to render the character name "Kundry" as "customer".  He's right.

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Thought panzers

Vacillating Chinese terminology for think tanks

Mark Metcalf wrote to tell me:

Global Times*just ran an article that might be of interest regarding PRC think tanks and a new book related to this topic: “Researchers, scholars explore methods to boost China’s influence of thoughts”.

*an appendage of People's Daily

I was caught up short by the clumsy expression "influence of thoughts".  But something else about this new development bothered me much more.  Mark tracked down the title of the book in question:

《Sīxiǎng tǎnkè: Zhōngguó zhìkù de guòqù, xiànzhuàng yǔ wèilái 思想坦克:中国智库的过去、现状与未来》("Thought tanks [armored vehicles]: the past, present, and future of China's wisdom warehouses"]) [VHM — intentionally awkward translation for special effect, to be explained below]

What jumped out at me in the title was the use of tǎnkè 坦克 for (think) tank. In my Chinese studies, I learned that tǎnkè 坦克 was a military weapon and not a repository. And when you Google images of tǎnkè 坦克, all you see are images of tracked vehicles. That's how all my Pleco dictionaries translate the term, as well. However, when you put the term into Google Translate, it provides both the tracked vehicle and an alternative translation: "a large receptacle or storage chamber, especially for liquid or gas" with yóuxiāng 油箱 ("oil / gas[oline] / fuel tank") as a synonym. Yet GT can't translate the term sīxiǎng tǎnkè 思想坦克.  [VHM:  And well it should not.  See more below.]

Going out on a limb, could the expression sīxiǎng tǎnkè 思想坦克 have the dual meaning (i.e., a pun) for an offensive organization ("vehicle") that is used to control / defend the narrative of the CCP?

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Modals, idiolects, garden-path sentences, and English translations of a ninth-century Chinese poem

Here I present a digest of four scientific linguistics papers from the latter part of the month of January, 2024 to show that our field is very much alive in diverse subfields at the beginning of the new year.

"The Semantics, Sociolinguistics, and Origins of Double Modals in American English: New Insights from Social Media." Morin, Cameron et al. PLOS ONE 19, no. 1 (January 24, 2024): e0295799.

Abstract: In this paper, we analyze double modal use in American English based on a multi-billion-word corpus of geolocated posts from the social media platform Twitter. We identify and map 76 distinct double modals totaling 5,349 examples, many more types and tokens of double modals than have ever been observed. These descriptive results show that double modal structure and use in American English is far more complex than has generally been assumed. We then consider the relevance of these results to three current theoretical debates. First, we demonstrate that although there are various semantic tendencies in the types of modals that most often combine, there are no absolute constraints on double modal formation in American English. Most surprisingly, our results suggest that double modals are used productively across the US. Second, we argue that there is considerable dialect variation in double modal use in the southern US, with double modals generally being most strongly associated with African American Language, especially in the Deep South. This result challenges previous sociolinguistic research, which has often highlighted double modal use in White Southern English, especially in Appalachia. Third, we consider how these results can help us better understand the origins of double modals in America English: although it has generally been assumed that double modals were introduced by Scots-Irish settlers, we believe our results are more consistent with the hypothesis that double modals are an innovation of African American Language.

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Not quite Chinglish

Signs in a Chinese park:

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What is the difference between a dragon and a /lʊŋ³⁵/?

Today is the Lunar New Year's Day, and it's the Year of the Dragon / /lʊŋ³⁵/ . As such, a kerfuffle is stirring in China and the English-speaking world regarding the English translation of lóng ⿓ / 龙 / 竜 (J), which is usually "dragon".

I will begin with the pronunciation of the word.  In MSM, it is lóng (Hanyu Pinyin), lung2 (Wade-Giles), lúng (Yale), long (Gwoyeu Romatzyh [the configuration of GR tonal spelling for this syllable indicates second tone), лун (Palladius).  They all represent the same MSM syllable.  I will not list the scores of other topolectal pronunciations for Cantonese, Shanghainese, Hakka, Hokkien, Xiamen / Amoy, Sichuan, etc., etc. and their dialects and subdialects.

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Taiwanese pun on a curry shop sign

Photograph of a sign on a curry shop in Banqiao District, New Taipei City:

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