August 18, 2004  ·  Tim Wu

Speaking of balkanization and translations, this is what appears to be a double translation of Lessig blog. From English to Japanese and back again, as in:

“If it will not be able to bear to like him, John Perry Barlow is the man who does not separate only in tedious existence.”

“Thierer, The Next Telecom Act – What does Cato want?”

“After [ a cyber-ethics champion ] paddle.”

  • Fred Brehm

    Chuckle, chuckle.

    I used to work for Siemens–a German industrial giant. We had lots of examples of this kind of thing. Remember Apollo workstations? Siemens sold them almost everywhere, including in England. The manuals were translated from English to German and back to English. They were quite hilarious. Even more hilarious was that the workstations were made in Scotland, shipped to Germany for their Siemens logo, and then back to England.

    We (here in Princeton, NJ) called it “Gerlish” for German English.


  • ittousai

    funny thing is, the first English to Japanese translation is done by human translator, unlike subsequent machine translation.

    so poor translator will have to do this entry too, preserving how funny those “miserable mistranslation gibberish” you quote sounds like.

    …and that translated entry too will be re-translated again into English by machine…sounds like Borges/Kafka-esque translator’s nightmare.

  • M. Mortazavi

    I’ve already written about this elsewhewre. What is needed, practical and possible is not automated translation. What is needed, and will necessarily occur in the long run, is multi-lingualism and at best multi-culturalism. Again, see my post here for more on this.

  • Pete

    You can see the ‘original’ Japanese version here. That translation was definitely done by someone who knows what they’re doing because it is spot on.

  • tim wu

    quadruple translation:

    “When the thing which he likes as for it can be put up with, the John Perry jackknifes are those who do not dissociate only in tedious existence.”

    It is “a thing [ want / what / Thierer and The Next Telecom Act-Cato ].”

    “After [ a [cyber-ethics champion] ] oar”

  • douglass truth

    This reminds me of a game mentioned in Philip K. Dick’s book Galactic Pot-Healer. Out-of-work intellectuals would run book titles through various translators back to the original, and then try to figure out the original title. This is one of Dick’s funniest and most theological works.

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