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talking moon

In a discussion about automatic translation we just had in #seamonkey, I got reminded once again of the good old "talking moon" story, which is always good for a laugh.

We all know that automatic translation services don't work perfectly, but e.g. translate.google.com does a good job in many cases and you can figure out what the original text was talking about, even if you don't understand the language it was written in.

Back in 2002, mozillaZine had a story about a German magazine polling their readers about their favorite browser. Of course, the magazine wrote its original story in their language, which was German, so mozillaZine linked to the rough translation of that Google service.
The mostly English-speaking Mozilla community was quite glad about this, and people could easily figure out through this translation what the results of that poll were. But, reading one sentence there made some people wonder what it means: "The Browser from talking moon is further unquestioned on place one, ...". Now how is a talking moon related to browsers? Looking into the original article revealed what had happended: "Zwar liegt der Browser aus Redmond weiterhin unangefochten auf Platz eins, ..." - "Redmond" had been translated to "talking moon"! Well, "red-" as a prefix derived from the verb "reden" - "to talk", can surely be translated to "talking", and "Mond" is the "moon", that's also correct. Just the algorithm detecting "Redmond" as a German word was probably a bit wrong, I guess ;-)

Who would have thought that there's a talking moon right in the vicinity of Seattle? :)

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on June 1st, 2007 14:16 | Tags: L10n, Mozilla | 2 comments | TrackBack



Justin Dolske

Tranlation humor
This kind of thing has a long history...

"Rumors have it that early modules for English to Russian have mistranslated some idioms with amusing results. Translating the phrase "The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak" to Russian and back to English resulted in: "The vodka was good, but the meat was rotten." Likewise "out of sight, out of mind" reportedly yielded the phrase "blind and insane.""

2007-06-02 02:00

Leonardo Fontenelle

That's a very interesting story!

Once I talked to an Australian here in Brazil, and he told me about a similar incident with the customs. The officer used an automatic translation software to talk to him, and the program translated "Rio de Janeiro" (the city) to "January River". Sometimes the original is easier to understand :D
2007-06-03 01:56

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