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Thread: Language sites

  1. #1
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    Language sites

    I need to do some correspondence with a Dutch company and wondered if anyone could recommend a website that does translation to/from Dutch/English. I don't know Dutch so I cannot judge how well Google does this. Any comments from people who have experience in this area? Actually, the company is in Belgium but they use Dutch on their website so I presume it is their language of choice.

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    Re: Language sites

    Hi Don

    A Lounge favourite for many years has been Babel Fish It does reasonable translation of pieces of your own text or text based websites
    Jerry

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    Re: Language sites

    Most automatic translation services, including BabelFish, produce amusing but not very accurate translations. Sending a company a machine-translated text might give an unprofessional impression.
    It's probably better to communicate with the company in English - most companies in The Netherlands and in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium will have at least one employee who understands English.

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    Re: Language sites

    I don't think you have anything to worry about - we don't expect non-residents to know Dutch.

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    Re: Language sites

    Thanks Jerry & Hans. I appreciate the Babelfish lead and I know from experience that these sites are not reliable translators and, indeed, the results can be amusing. I believe I will communicate in English and hope it is seen merely as ignorance of the Dutch language and not arrogance.

  6. #6
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    Re: Language sites

    Hans: I don't know Dutch, but I do have a rudimentary knowledge of Norwegian. According to my friends, my accent is tolerable and my syntax is not too badly mangled. So what happens when I am there? The natives think I can understand them and converse with me at normal speed! And I can hardly understand a thing!

    So, perhaps it is better, especially when doing business dealings, to ask politely if it is possible to use English if one is not fluent in the local language. It is one thing to expect onions (lok) and get the garlic you actually requested (hvitlok). It is another thing to agree to something you cannot accomplish in a contract.

    PS: In Norwegian the word for marriage and poison is the same (gift, pronounced yift)

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    Re: Language sites

    Hi there,
    I agree completely with you that one should be careful, especially in business relations. And I agree with Hans that machine-translated texts might not give the impression one would like, a professional one.

    I treat the auto-translation sites just as a quick test when looking at some text, but would never use them for anything else. To me, since some months, the http://www.google.com/translate is the newest among them.

    BTW, the word for "married" in Swedish is "gift" (with your pronunciation), same as you say for "poison" "gift". So there is a not so surprising similarity with Norwegian there.

    I am always impressed when I find people in other countries having knowledge in our small language, same goes with your knowledge in the Norwegian language. But I have to say there is a little difference between the word "marriage" and "married".

    In Swedish the most common word for "marriage" is "äktenskap", in Norwegian it is "ekteskap", and in Danish it is "ægteskab". But the word "married", like "A is married to B", is "gift" in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. As to the etymology of "gift" [married] and "gift" [poison], as I understand it, it is the same: "something that is given to/in" (and again, not so surprisingly, similar to the English word gift, "something given voluntarily").

    I agree with you that some knowledge maybe might give the impression that one understand 90-95 %, so to ask politely if for instance English is possible is probably the best. Knowing a few words is, however, a great icebreaker.

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    Re: Language sites

    Here's an example of a fragment of Dutch translated by Babelfish into English. Although I assume that it's still possible to guess the general meaning, it's not good English at all:
    <hr>Dear lord/Ms,

    Gladly I an appointment with you want make to be able present our product line you.

    Yours sincerely, ...<hr>
    <img src=/S/blackteeth.gif border=0 alt=blackteeth width=20 height=20>

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    Re: Language sites

    <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>
    And if I translate the sentence [if that's what one can call it] to Swedish with Google, and then translate that "Swedish" sentence to Dutch with Google, I get:

    "Bij voorkeur ben ik een vergadering met degene die u wilt doen te kunnen presenteren onze productlijn u" (I hope I didn't offense someone now.)

    I guess I'm pushing the machine-translation a bit ... <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>. As I said I would never use it for anything than private use, and then only once or twice a year to check some text, quickly, in lack of other means. On the other hand, I use dictionaries every day, more or less.

    Google/Babelfish is almost as amusing as The Dialectizer, you mentioned some year ago.

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    Re: Language sites

    That sentence doesn't bear much resemblance to the original one...

    There's an old urban legend from the Cold War period telling about early attempts to let computers translate between English and Russian. Scientists had the computer translate the sentence "Out of sight, out of mind" from English into Russian and then back into English. The result was "Invisible idiot". Another one was "The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak", which came back as "The vodka was good but the meat was rotten". It probably didn't really happen, but still...

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    Re: Language sites

    >So what happens when I am there?
    You'll have a great time, because you're attitude is positive and thoughtful.
    I went to Paris on a 6 month contract in 1978, stayed 2 1/2 years!
    From the get-go I decided to struggle with French, rather than to speak slowly in a loud voice like my Anglo co-workers.
    It paid off handsomely.
    In 2 1/2 years I had, perhaps, three times when my "Excuse me, I'm not French, I speak French poorly but ...." was misunderstood by the locals. Mainly because I'd used it so often that it came out in flawless Parisian French! After the third time I decided it was a lie, so I stopped excusing myself.

    Consider this (wherever you live): You are stopped in the street by a total stranger who says in fractured English, with a strong accent that could be East European, Asian, Colonial, whatever "Pliz, the bus station I am for looking", or its strained equivalent.
    What do you think and do?
    I bet you think "Not a bad effort for a Calathumpian", and proceed to explain, or point to, or in some situations, even walk with/to the bus station.
    I bet you don't look down on that person. I bet you help them, and appreciate that whereas you know only one language (OK!), they know there own plus some of yours.

    I further bet that once you get to The Netherlands and start essaying with simple phrases, bus drivers, waitresses and the guy in the street will be tickled pink.
    P.S. Don't try practicing the language at peak-hour in the bus/cafe. They're busy!
    P.P.S. If you bump into Hans, buy him oh, I dunno, a coffee or something for me.

  12. #12
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    Re: Language sites

    Well, I said "rudementary"!!!! Actually, I typed too fast as I do indeed know that ekteskap is what happens after one is "gift". (It's a JOKE folks). Actually, I can recognize the two forms, as marry is used reflexively. But it is still a fun connection.

    And for those who are not aware of Scandinavian history, a Norwegian can understand spoken Swedish pretty well but can read Danish more easily. (My Norwegian friends say a Dane is a Norwegian with a throat condition; my Danish friends simply laugh and have another Tuborg.)

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    Re: Language sites

    Everything I write and read [on the Lounge] is in English, regardless of who posted the message. When a lounger from Mexico City or Argentina logs on and is writing and reading the same messages, are they seeing it in English, too? Or are they seeing the Lounge in their native language?

    I've just always assumed that websites appeared in the local language...
    - Ricky

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    Re: Language sites

    You can use the FlagBar or your Display Preferences to specify the interface language for Woody's Lounge. This affects the captions of some (but not all) items in the Lounge menu bar, labels and buttons. See screenshot below. It doesn't affect the text of the posts themselves - they are always in English because we don't allow posting in other languages. You can sometimes detect that English is not the poster's native language.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    • File Type: png x.png (3.5 KB, 0 views)

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    Re: Language sites

    "You can sometimes detect that English is not the poster's native language."

    Yes, I've seen that. But I thought it may have been a case of a "built-in" translation weakness, such as has been described on this thread already. Just wasn't sure, thanks for clarifying. Now, I'm even more amazed and impressed of how well so many people [from all over] do with the English language.

    There's so much slang and misuse of grammar (not to mention misspellings) running around in the US, that it probably seems most of us (including me) don't have a real grasp of the English language. I frequently get email from corporate officers that look as though it were written by a 1st grader. No punctuation. No caps. I wonder if these people have ever heard of spell check. I guess it's viewed as informal - I think it's just unprofessional.

    <img src=/S/cheers.gif border=0 alt=cheers width=30 height=16>
    - Ricky

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