The truth is that the translators have gotten ridiculously better than they used to be. I used to actually rely on them being kind of bad, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We’re going to find out at the end of this post.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everybody got two and eventually three wrestlers, though I would eventually take over for other people and then I’d have more until I had eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My premier wrestler was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying so his manager made stuff up. One was a Best Buy security guy who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last was a middle-eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce the broken English? Through translations of course. What I would do is I would take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then back to English. The result was English words that sort of made sense but something had obviously gotten lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter got re-translated to “Hunter of the Cousin.” Words with dual meaning plus syntax and it really worked out pretty well. I want to say that I used Russian because Spanish didn’t shake things up enough and other languages weren’t available.

So today we’re going to find out if that would even work by running this post through three languages. Spanish, because obviously, Russian because that’s what I think it used, and Arabic because that’s what I would use today:

Russian

The truth is that the translators got ridiculously better than before. Previously, I relied on them as a bad thing, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We will find out about this at the end of this message.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Spanish

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everyone had two and eventually three fighters, although they would eventually take control of other people and then have more until they had eight or more. Three of them were not Americans. My first fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying, so his manager did things. One was a Best Buy security guy who emigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last one was a Middle Eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce broken English? Through course translations. What I would do is take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then go back to English. The result was English words that made sense but something was obviously lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter returned to translate to “Hunter of the Cousin”. Dual meaning words plus syntax and really worked pretty well.

Russian

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Arabic:

When I was in college, my friend Denis started to simulate the league wrestling, with the Wrestling Wrestling game on the N64. Everyone got two eventually three wrestlers, although I would eventually take over to other people, and then I would have even more had me eight or so. Three of them non-Americans. The premier wrestler was a man from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying so that his manager made things. One of the best security man was to buy Hagar from Germany, who spoke in Arnold’s speech. He was the last man in the Middle East who spoke in broken English.

How did English produced a break? Through the translation of course. What I will do is that I will take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then return to English. The result was English words that were sensitive but something had obviously lost in the translation. Hunter’s reward got re-translated into “hunter cousin”. Words with double meaning plus syntax and they really worked very well.

Verdict:

Well, Spanish works too well to work, but that was the case back then, too. Russian worked well enough at the time, but now wouldn’t work. But Arabic would work! There is work to do there, apparently. The sign in question above was in Hebrew, which would probably (?) have some of the same liabilities.


Category: Theater

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

4 Responses to Translations Too Clean

  1. Of those languages, the only one I have even a passing acquaintance with is Spanish, and it’s interesting to see how and when it goes wrong. I’m thinking primarily of the “they would eventually take control of other people and then have more until they had eight or more,” where “I” is replaced with “they.” I can see how it happens. While I don’t know the exact Spanish phrasing, I suspect “I would have more” probably is rendered in Spanish as something like “more is left to me,” which when translated back to English might become the impersonal “they would have.”

    Or maybe. My Spanish isn’t that good. Frankly, I’m surprised at how good all the translations are, even the Arabic one.

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    It’s possible in theory that you could get this result if the translator translated English to nonsense Russian and then back to something resembling the original English. The round-trip translation is not necessarily representative of the quality of the one-way translation.

    My experience with Chinese and Japanese is that they’re still really bad, often to the point of being incomprehensible.

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