As you can see, I’m still struggling to keep up with all the news that’s flying around. I thought I’d share a collection of links that have swum before my eyes over the last fortnight that can only really be classed as entertainment.
- The Google Translate team admit that they can’t translate everything: Your stomach growling is one example they give.
- The Swedish Chef from the muppets has his own wikipedia entry (“In Germany the Swedish Chef is Danish and his song is “Smørrebrød, Smørrebrød røm, pøm, pøm, pøm”. However, in Sweden he is still Swedish.”)
There have also been other more serious posts:
- Metaglossia links to a new book on translating and interpreting for Social Activism. I hadn’t heard of MetaGlossia before, and I had higher hopes for it. Unfortunately it seems to be not much more than a collection of press releases. I’m fascinated by the topic of the book, however, and know many people who potentially could learn from it – but is it worth it? As far as I can see, it’s just a collection of essays – I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of those that have read it regardless.
- I don’t think enough people make the connections when it comes to search, MT and grammar analysis, but I do make those connections – Slashdot is reporting on some new Plagiarism in Research software. As with many Slashdot postings, it seems to be under analysed before posting – “search and destroy” is overly aggressive language regards plagiarism in my book, but I would say that, I loved that the Situationists plagiarised Isidore Ducasse.
- TAUS has a fantastic pictorial history of Machine Translation: A Translation Automation Timeline. It’s quite nerdy, but shows quite well the growth in the industry over time – starting in 1945, it largely focuses on researchers, by 2010 most facts revolve around corporate involvement.
- At some point I was pointed to Moses for Mere Mortals – I’ve talked about the machine translation engine Moses in a previous posts, in particular how difficult it is for the non technical to set up. This packages contains both Windows and Ubuntu packages that will make testing Moses a lot easier for the non technical. It’s also handy for getting up to speed on just what is required in the MT toolchain – given that most people are put off by the set up alone, the last few yards (using corpora for MT training for instance) are often missed or under analysed. I’ve not tried it yet myself, but you can consider this post a TODO.
- I’ve never read her novels, but Zadie Smith writes wonderfully. I recently saw The Social Network and her analysis was interesting reading: Generation Why – it’s that kind of film. And that lead me to a fascinating article she wrote on the voice just after Obama was elected – Speaking in Tongues:
My own childhood had been the story of this and that combined, of the synthesis of disparate things. It never occurred to me that I was leaving the London district of Willesden for Cambridge. I thought I was adding Cambridge to Willesden, this new way of talking to that old way. Adding a new kind of knowledge to a different kind I already had. And for a while, that’s how it was: at home, during the holidays, I spoke with my old voice, and in the old voice seemed to feel and speak things that I couldn’t express in college, and vice versa. I felt a sort of wonder at the flexibility of the thing. Like being alive twice.
But flexibility is something that requires work if it is to be maintained. Recently my double voice has deserted me for a single one, reflecting the smaller world into which my work has led me. Willesden was a big, colorful, working-class sea; Cambridge was a smaller, posher pond, and almost univocal; the literary world is a puddle. This voice I picked up along the way is no longer an exotic garment I put on like a college gown whenever I choose—now it is my only voice, whether I want it or not. I regret it; I should have kept both voices alive in my mouth. They were both a part of me. But how the culture warns against it! As George Bernard Shaw delicately put it in his preface to the play Pygmalion, “many thousands of [British] men and women…have sloughed off their native dialects and acquired a new tongue.”
And I think I will leave you with that for tonight. I’ve just been conversing with a wonderful academic from Indonesia who has given me permission to re-print her essay on the mutability of Bahasa Indonesia – look forward to it.