Re: Localizable Sentences Experiment

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue Apr 21 2009 - 14:09:47 CDT

  • Next message: Sarasvati: "Re: Localizable Sentences Experiment"

    On Apr 21, 2009, at 12:28 PM, John Burger wrote:

    > William J Poser wrote:
    >> The problem of translation is even worse than you may realize. In the
    >> language of the area in which I live, for example, before I can
    >> decide
    >> how to say "it's raining" I need to know whether the speaker is on
    >> land
    >> or on water. nawhulhtih means "it is raining onto land". tawhulhtih
    >> means "it is raining into water".
    > Yes. I haven't been reading the list that closely, but I assumed
    > that this whole discussion was a long-running thread that began on
    > April 1. Seriously.
    > The list of utterances which can reliably be translated into more
    > than a few languages with little or no context is vanishingly
    > short. Even "yes" and "no" are problematic - in some languages
    > these operate like English, in some they reverse when the question
    > has negative polarity, and in others there are additional words for
    > that situation.

    <humor>Maybe we should start with localizable words instead of
    localizable sentences. Just allocate a large block for words that
    would possibly be useful. I don't think we'd need more than 80,000 or
    so. We may be able to come up with actual glyphs for the words, too,
    like pictures or combinations of pictures.</humor>

    I *didn't* think this was an April Fool's joke that got out of hand,
    but the very idea was so patently ludicrous on the surface I'm
    surprised it generated any favorable traffic at all.

    Nobody who's tried to use a phrase book while traveling in a foreign
    country could possibly think that this sort of thing is possible, let
    alone practical.

    John H. Jenkins

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