Friday, May 29, 2015

Oh, Bing...

see textЮрій Поправка – один з тих, хто віддав своє життя за волю і віру в свою країну. Наші діти повинні зростати гідними громадянами великої країни Героїв!

Bing gives that as:
Yuri Amendment is one of those who gave their lives for freedom and faith in his country. Our children must grow worthy citizens of a great nation of heroes!

This time, Google is worse:
Yuri amendment - one of those who gave their lives for freedom and faith in his country. Our children should grow worthy citizens of a great country heroes!

Both of them miss the meaning of the instrumental case after зростати, which they both mistranslate as just "grow". As the dictionary puts it, the primary meaning is:
  1. (рости) to grow; (про дітей) to grow up
where про дітей means "of children". And the instrumental complement gives the meaning of "to become" or "to be".

And they both - like Mark Twain's translation "'the infuriated tigress broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest' (Tannenwald)" where he "found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a man's name." - translate Yuriy's surname. He's not Yuriy Amendment (Google cavalierly ignores the capitalization); he's Yuri Popravka. 

ps: If you haven't read Twain's "The Awful German Language", you should.

pps: there is an interesting translation problem here. Yuriy might be "one of those (unspecified people) who gave his life". Semantically it's not likely, but it's possible in a context where he was in a group but was the only one to do. The grammar makes it possible, as хто (who) is grammatically singular and masculine regardless of its antecedent, and своє (the possessive "one's own", as opposed to "someone else's") has no number or gender of its own but matches up with the noun it modifies. I wouldn't translate it that way without a good contextual backstory to justify it, but it's grammatically possible.

Also, життя is in a class of neuter nouns where the nominative singular and plural are the same. In this case, in Ukrainian it's actually singular (plural would be свої життя), but that's not so different from English where one could say "one of those who gave their life" and mean the same thing as "their lives".

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At 12:22 PM, May 30, 2015 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

I don't use Bing, but have collected examples where Google Translate doesn't recognize the difference between a person's or place's proper name and a common noun. E.g.:

Fernando Pessoa => Fernando Person

Henrique Jorge Segurado Pavão => Henrique Jorge Insured Peacock

José Carlos Palha Tavares de Melo (1954) bancário reformado [...] natural da vila de Povoação, ilha de S. Miguel... =>
Straw José Carlos Tavares de Melo (1954) reformed banking [...] born in the village Village, island of S. Michael...
(Should be, "José Carlos Palha Tavares de Melo (1954), retired banker [...], was born in the village of Povoação on the island of São Miguel...")

Coro dos Velhos do Corvo => Chorus of Old Crow
(Should be, "Chorus of the Elders of the island of Corvo")

...Adolfo Casais Monteiro declara neste mesmo texto conhecer... =>
...Adolfo couples in the same text declares Monteiro know...
(Should be, "...Adolfo Casais Monteiro declared in the same text that he knew...")


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