Monday, September 11, 2006

On the Dangers of Translation Programs

Just received a Chinese copy of Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood off eBay. One of his earliest films, it's one of the best deals on eBay; you can usually get it for under $10, postage included, and it's a really moving film. It's smaller in scale and more direct than many of Tarkovsky's metaphysical masterpieces, but it's no less powerful, telling the story of a young Russian boy engaged in fighting the Nazis. Alas, the poor Chinese! Faced with the daunting task of translating the description of the film from Chinese to English, they fled to a computer translation program. The results are really, really unfortunate (and hilarious) -- I am typing this, word for word, off the back of the DVD case:

"First work, tower that childhood that ten thousand is a tower can man this war the movie is a beginning for minister slice, scribinging his uncommon business of his head. His poem the story inside of style at 12-year old and small ten thousand is already early clues. ten thousand after his village encounter Nazi invading wash became the orphan, he to were entered the captive's by pass. The cleverness's ten thousand escaped to come out to we re take ined by a captain. The captain plan sends the school so that he go to rear, but ten thousand howiever insist on to help the Soviets Red Army, henice he sneaken ined the inside of virtu ous soldier."

Reading copy like this makes me feel like I made the right career choice... Sometimes my students actually try to "cheat" by using programs like these. As you may imagine, it's not all that difficult to spot...

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