Our first topic: involves porting websites and software to another language and some of the difficulties it can lead to, depending on the source language. Let's look at the Hebrew Facebook Mobile port on iPhone and we can see immediately some of the problems:
First we'll start off the immediate problem that, because of the mixed left-to-right and right-to-left text going on, these sentences are completely garbled. That fact that the sentences start in English and then continue in Hebrew doesn't help, as the start of the sentence will default to the left -- incorrect in this case. The Hebrew article ה, ha, manages to become separated from the word it is connected to when that word is highlighted in blue, and other inseparable prefixes do the same thing (see התגובה, with its article attaching to Kellen Capp's name, and בסטטיס, where ב, a prefix meaning "in" or "with", generally, attaches to Ralph Jaeger's name.
While I wasn't surprised to see "גם הגיב/ה" in the last box -- the slash allows for this statement to apply to both genders (much like "his/hers" in English -- here it's "He/she also commented"). Yet, above in the Kellen Capps box, we see אוהב, the masculine singular of this verb ("he loves"). Well that's cool, right? That would mean that it understood that the person responding is male and the text generated accordingly -- which makes you wonder, if it COULD tell gender, why was the last box needing to display both verb forms?
And here, looking at the box referring to Gilles Polinien, we see see אוהבת -- "she loves". Clearly, therefore, Facebook has demonstrated that it has no idea what gender anyone is, and this is problematic for languages which have heavy gender reflection in its verbs, adjectives, and pronouns.
Anyone else have awkward software/website translation stories? I'd love to hear them ...
The other weekend Carl and I were watching The Shining, and I stumbled across this little tidbit on the Wikipedia page, describing how the now-infamous typewriter scene was shot an additional five times, each time in another language:
For each language, a suitable idiom was used: German (Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen—"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today"), Italian (Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca – "The morning has gold in its mouth"), French (Un «Tiens» vaut mieux que deux «Tu l'auras» – "One 'here you go' is worth more than two 'you'll have its'", the equivalent of "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"), Spanish (No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano – "No matter how early you get up, you can't make the sun rise any sooner").
I'm not used to movies doing this -- shooting scenes particularly for the film's export into another country. Are there other examples of this? I'd love to know ...