As Summer addressed the machine translation issue in her recent post, I couldn’t resist adding a few titbits from my “blunders and howlers” collection. Because one thing that keeps me on my toes most of the time I review machine-translated texts is how common lexical phrases or grammatical constructions are mistranslated. Take a look at this sentence, for example:
She made your aunt promise that she would…
Straightforward enough, you might say. But it became
Sie hat deiner Tante versprochen, dass wir uns …
She promised your aunt …
He was up again within seconds to throw up into a bush to the left, hucking up all the turkey he’d eaten earlier.
Er war innerhalb von Sekunden wieder auf den Beinen und warf sich in einen Busch auf der linken Seite, wobei er den ganzen Truthahn, den er zuvor gegessen hatte, in sich hineinschlang.
In the German sentence, our hero is not “throwing up” into a bush; he is “throwing himself into a bush”. This action seems to have made him hungry: he is gorging himself (!) on some more turkey rather than spitting it out. You can safely say that this would make for some very unusual reading …
Okay, so dialectal variants and sublanguages are perhaps not every machine’s forte. Still, it’s amazing how often you will find very simple constructions mangled.
To top off today’s selection, here’s my current favourite:
He spied a young kid chewing on a piece of bread, leaning on a shovel.
Er entdeckte einen jungen Mann, der auf einer Schaufel kaute und sich auf ein Stück Brot stützte.
The translation says: „He spied a young man chewing a shovel and leaning on a piece of bread.” Cheers to that!