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Re: Polyglot Challenges

by awkmonk (Monk)
on Apr 23, 2003 at 12:28 UTC ( #252528=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Polyglot Challenges

Nice meditation, ++

It would be interesting to see how many reserved words of a language could be translated to an exact counterpart in another language. The problem with English is that it can be too descriptive - there are very few terms that can't be described with a single word, and if those there are, we generally nick a word from another language.

A recent article in New Scientist discussed this issue, and found that bi-lingual people who were given a description of a photograph in English, built up a mental image of a moving scene, whilst the same description translated into Spanish generally produced a static mental image.

They were trying to show that people can actually think differently when they think in a given language.

As for my own experience - I had to translate a system from one flavour of COBOL to another when the comments/variables were all written in Dutch. It's only then that you realise how descriptive even short data names can be.


'I think the problem lies in the fact that your data doesn't fit my program'.


Comment on Re: Polyglot Challenges
Re: Re: Polyglot Challenges
by TVSET (Chaplain) on Apr 23, 2003 at 13:48 UTC
    "if" translated to Russian sounds like "esli", which sounds (and looks) like "else", which is total other story. Confusing, isn't it? :)

    Leonid Mamtchenkov

Re: Re: Polyglot Challenges
by crenz (Priest) on Apr 23, 2003 at 14:04 UTC

    It would be interesting to see how many reserved words of a language could be translated to an exact counterpart in another language.

    Actually, there was a version of Microsoft Office where they translated their macro languages into German. I don't know why, but it looked somewhat weird to me.

    I could imagine that it would work well with Chinese -- lots of concepts could probably be expressed using only one character. German, however, tends to be more verbose and is therefore probably less suitable.

    It would be easy to translate keywords like "if", "else", "print", "unless". But I think I would have difficulties to find translations for more abstract concepts, like "map", "push", "grep", "unshift". But then, that's only logical. We only understand these keywords in English because we can imagine the concepts behind them. E.g. "push" only makes sense because we think of a stack when we use it. So translating keywords to other languages probably is mostly a matter of getting used to it.

      I suppose the translation would also have to get the semantics right.

      COBOL provides an even bigger scope for confusion (doesn't it always?). Image translating STRING as TWINE or ROPE or FLEX or CORD? the program could very quickly become meaningless (more so than they normally do).

      It's very much like the 'see no evil, hear no evil' translating as 'invisible idiot'.


      'I think the problem lies in the fact that your data doesn't fit my program'.

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