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There seems to be a semsitivity to using imperfect English in France/Germany that simply isn't a problem for English speakers.  We're not afraid to try our limited or mangled French/German and let the unfortunate recipient try to make sense of it.

So one solution is to make an explicit statement in the new user guide that perfect or even good English is not required.  We will try and make sense of what people are saying and respond empathetically.

The other solution is the Tribext- machine translation engine - its a good first cut approximation and usually fully understandable if not quite as nuanced as it could be.

A third solution is simply to encourage comments in other languages.  The problem here is that they may be very few e.g. German speakers on line at any point in time to carry on a conversation.

Even Timesonline's Charles' Bremner encourages comments in French - and that is an issue we have to address in the context of the development of the ET community in any case.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:08:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moze powinne zaczac komentowac po polsku. Jestem pewny ze wszyscy mnie zrozumieja. Wyscie wszyscy uczyli sie polskiego w szkole - to przeciez bardzo pozyteczny jezyk. No, moze to nie jest az tak dobry pomysl. Zastanowie sie.
by MarekNYC on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, as Google puts it
Maybe powinne start komentowac in English. I am sure with
All zrozumieja me. Wyscie all teach the Polish August
at school - it is very pozyteczny language. No, it can
and so is not a good idea. Zastanowie August.
Aren't computers wonderful?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:19:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Umph, you were faster.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:21:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
August? (sie, or rather się, I'm too lazy to use diacriticals, is the reflexive pronoun, August is 'Sierpień')
by MarekNYC on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:23:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What ever it might mean, it does look good. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moze powinne zaczac komentowac po polsku. Jestem pewny ze wszyscy mnie zrozumieja. Wyscie wszyscy uczyli sie polskiego w szkole - to przeciez bardzo pozyteczny jezyk. No, moze to nie jest az tak dobry pomysl. Zastanowie sie. Maybe powinne start komentowac in English. I am sure that all zrozumieja me. Wyscie teach all of August in the Polish school - it is very pozyteczny language. No, it can not be a good idea and so. Zastanowie August.

Hmmm, either the translator is not very good in Polish, the original text is full of orthographical mistakes, or without a human reading it, those translations really aren't very useful.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actual translation:

Maybe I should start commenting in Polish. I'm sure everyone will understand me. You all studied Polish in school - after all, it's a very useful language. Hmmh, maybe it's not such a good idea. I'll think about it.

by MarekNYC on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the way that Polish got translated as English. I think it uses some sort of statistical analysis, so that a reference to Polish in Polish corresponds to a reference to English in English.

The classical example of this, now fixed, was the translation of Sarkozy (French) into Blair (English).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:33:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What? Why? It's a perfectly accurate translation :-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 11:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, either the translator is not very good in Polish, the original text is full of orthographical mistakes

I would say that the lack of diacritical marks was an issue except it seems to do fine with some words. Take the first sentence: everything except the last two words has marks. 'Zaczac' even has two and it got it right. And translating 'No' as no is pretty strange, as is 'uczyli sie' as 'teach all of August'.

Or in other words the translation program sucks.

by MarekNYC on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 07:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It does quite okay for French, English and Spanish, if I remember correctly. Italian too, maybe? German is okay for the most part, but it deals poorly with compound nouns.

I did the test a while back, translating some random bits from newspapers. One can for the most part understand what is written, and easily improve it to standard English. The program seems to get worse for other languages. With Swedish, for example, one may as well not bother...

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Sep 1st, 2008 at 04:13:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but my friends are already aware of it, and it just does not seem enough.

You know if you look reately at the sitemeter map, there should be actually quite a few people from the German speaking area, but very few of them are commenting. And I don't think answers have to be posted instantaneoudly. Some people comment in older diaries and keep that discussion alive.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 04:24:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - the development f a truly multi-lingual ET is on the agenda for Paris...

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 31st, 2008 at 07:15:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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