Sunday, May 2, 2010

All Understand It Very Forgiving

The other day I discovered that people from other countries sometimes ask Google to translate some of my posts into their own tongues. The most common route is from English to Spanish. Just for fun I asked Google to translate one of my pieces into German. The result produced a good half hour’s laughter and merriment for Brigitte and me. An article today about complexity in the New York Times—it caught Brigitte’s attention, we talked about it, and I’ll comment at some point in the future—reminded me of the application of mechanics to language.

Artificial Intelligence is a kind of bête noire for me—an innocent way to vent frustrations about much deeper errors of the current era. AI’s march is not exactly triumphal, and least so where genuine intelligence is absolutely necessary to make the machine perform. Therefore it delights me to present the translation of Madame de Staël’s rendition of that famous phrase, tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner. She said: Tout comprendre rend très indulgent. This Google renders as “All understand it very forgiving.”

The child is learning to speak! Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful child…

1 comment:

  1. Why does this remind me of the User Manual of our most recently acquired camera?


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