Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who asked whom, Bing?

What the hell, Bing?

see text«Я в берлоге», — Евгений Плющенко попросил общественность забыть про него
"I'm in a den," the public has asked Evgeny Plushenko to forget about him

Come one, Bing. This is straightforward. Masculine noun, masculine verb, feminine noun. Subject-Verb-Object. For crying out loud. (Plus, in yours, who's "him"?) Interestingly, Bing does get the aspect right - perfective Russian verb becomes English perfect.

Google seems to get it more correct but it makes a crucial mistake: it's not "it" he wants them to forget, it's "him". The translation sounds like he's asking the public to forget about his going into the den.
"I'm in the den," - Yevgeny Plushenko asked the public to forget about it

My translation: "I've gone to ground," Yevgeny Plushchenko has asked the public to forget about him. (I could be talked into "holed up" or "hiding out" in some contexts, but here Plushenko wants to be left alone as he prepares for the World Championships and then probably the Olympics; he's not retiring, he just doesn't want to be a distraction... or distracted himself.)

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At 2:40 PM, April 22, 2015 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Google Translate also often confuses pronoun genders, being apparently unable to differentiate between the female and male given names to which they refer in context. I've accumulated quite a few of these howlers on my list.

Another error that Google Translate sometimes makes is translating subject-after-predicate construction (more common in Portuguese than in English) as the direct object -- again something that's obvious in context to the human translator.

Have you asked those knowledgeable in other languages if they too encounter these problems with translating software?

P.S. Plushenko had a lot of back trouble at the Sochi Olympics, so is likely healing and rehabbing in hopes of competing again at the 2018 games. He's also married, with a couple of small children (IIRC), so may be enjoying family life staying home, instead of being on the road so much, as he was when actively competing.


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