Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Of white cats, black mats, and grey rats

From:Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>
Date:Saturday, March 4, 2006, 23:50
Under the heading:
"Do you require to sense admirable future mornings?"

I read in my mail box this gem of some language, possibly cognate with - tho not
a lineal descendant of - English:
"Our late survey shows that it needs usually of only 2.5 drinkings to produce a
hangover. But our lozenges aids you shun hangovers and wake up feeling splendid
from caput to stomach and everywhere additional."

Such poetry! :-)

I bet they took advantage of one of those free translation sites on the web ...
Next time I want to say something in a remarkable way, I'll do likewise.
Instead of just saying: "The white cat sat on the black mat, eating a grey
rat.", I'm sure to sound much more profound if I first translate it to, say,
Russian, thus:
"Белый кот сидел на черной циновке, есть серую крысу."

and then back to English, as:
"White tomcat sat on the black mat, there is a gray rat."

Or to French:
"Le chat blanc s'est reposé sur la natte noire, mangeant un rat gris."

then to German as:
"Die weiße Katze s'est, die auf der schwarzen Matte beruht wurde, die eine graue Ratte ißt."

then back to French as:
"Le chat s'est blanc qui a été été basé sur le tapis noir qu'un rat gris mange."

then finally back to English (?) as:
"The white cat s'est which was based on the black carpet qu'un gray rat eats."

Even my rusty French tells me that "qu'un" translates as "that a". And I can see
that the German simply kept the "s'est" because it couldn't translate it. So
I'll drop it. WIth this assistance, the machines have produced:
"The white cat which was based on the black carpet that a gray rat eats."

What a masterpiece!

Another translation site gave me this English to Portuguese translation:
"O gato branco sentou-se na esteira preta, comendo um rato cinzento."

This bounced back into English as:
"The white cat sat down in the black mat, eating a mouse cinzento."

Not too bad - we lost "grey" and the cat now sits down in the mat, not on it.

Let's try a short business letter then:
"Dear Sir,
This letter is to inform you that the goods you sent were not of merchantable
quality. We are unable to sell inferior goods in this very demanding
market-place. We therefore await your instructions for the disposal of these
goods. It will cost us $50 a tonne to dump them. Are you prepared to cover this
cost? Needless to say, we will not be paying you for the goods.
Yours Sincerely,"

In Portuguese, this appears to be:
"Caro Senhor,
Esta letra é informaá-lo que a mercadoria você enviou não eram de qualidade de
merchantable. Somos incapazes de vender mercadoria inferior neste mercado muito
exigente. Nós portanto esperamos seuas instruções para a disposição destas
mercadoria. Ele nos custará $50 uma tonelada descarregaá-los. São preparados
cobrir este custo? Desnecessário dizer, nós não o pagaremos para a
O seu Sinceramente,"

Throwing this back into English, the same site gives me:
"Costly Mister,
This letter is informaá-read that the merchandise you sent were not of quality of
merchantable. We are incapable of sell lower merchandise in this very demanding
market. We therefore expect its instructions for the arrangement of these
merchandise. He will cost $50 a ton descarregaá-the. They are prepared cover
this cost? Unnecessary it say, we will not pay for the merchandise.
Its Sincerely,"

Not too bad!  You can almost make sense of it.


"The white cat sat on the black mat, eating a grey rat."

Le chat blanc s'est assis sur le tapis noir, en mangeant un rat gris.

Белая кошка села на черный ковер, съев пасюка.

Die weiße Katze setzte sich auf den schwarzen Teppich, aufgegessen пасюка.

The white cat sat down on the black carpet, finished пасюка.

which transliterates as:
The white cat sat down on the black carpet, finished pas'uka.


Too much fun!  No, please don't try to translate that ...
Translations courtesy of X, Y and Z, who shall remain otherwise nameless to avoid offense
or a libel suit.

ObConlang: When will we be able to use one of these masterly translation engines to
translate (or at least make the first pass at translating) a corpus of work
from, say, our L1 into our *own* conlang? A passing thought: perhaps it would
be best for its suggestive power if the translation process *wasn't* too
perfect ...


No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 268.1.2/274 - Release Date: 3/3/06