Postmodern approach to translation

Tal Cohen has a personal opinion about Douglas R. Hofstadter’s book “Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language”. Hofstadter, of course, has an opinion about the process of translating an expression of an idea from one language into another language.

I have a simpler (?) problem to consider. An utterance in one language (say, language A) can be translated into one of several utterances in another language (say, language B). The original utterance can have one of several possible meanings, depending upon the context. To each meaning correspond one or more translations in language B.

Now, in a computerized translation system, we would like to be able to specify, for each utterance in the original text, enough of the context in which it lies, for the software to be able to fit a good translation into language B.

The question is how to specify context. We need to know also how much context to specify. If we specify more than this amount of context, we are really translating into a different dialect of language B.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

One thought on “Postmodern approach to translation”

  1. I once wrote a story which made “Fruit flies like a banana, time flies like an arrow” translate the opposite of what you'd've thought. It required about two pages of SF story to get the reader to the point where this is the right context. I believe “determining enough context” and “formalizing context” to be AI-Complete 🙂


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