Jan 17, 2010

On the Limitations of Online Translation Tools

Left: Han Han might well be a literary genius, but you will never know by relying on virtual translation tools

I came across a news article on Han Han, a rally driver who is also China's most popular blogger, and I decided to visit Han Han's website, which has the title Two Cold So Warm. At least I think this is the title of the blog, as I do not read the Mandarin script and I am trusting online translation tools.

Which is to say I may not have a clue as to the real title of Han Han's blog.

The translation tool provided by Google also offered up the following results of recent blog post titles Han Han created:

* "Pat the soil body" - a film critique with the following translated section that reflects the post title, but which leaves me even more perplexed: "I guess the birth of this movie is because the mountain of the media found a Zhang Yimou Zhao Benshan, the two pat the soil body, sitting on the kang, said Yimou, a film shot us in chanting, you see, they are so popular small Shenyang You also have a box office with his assurance that I could go down to the arts actor here, the direction of the whole a whole."

* "Give him something to eat pickles" - a post calling for reform of a body translated by Google as the "National Standards Board."

* "City, let the people die early" - an article that described an accident between a cement mixer and the driver of a scooter, and ostensibly one that faults the city of Shanghai for poor traffic management.

Thus, I leave Han Han's blog only slightly more knowledgeable about contemporary China than I had been before visiting the site, though the blog contains ads for products as diverse as acne scar removal cream. I suppose that I would need to learn Mandarin to really understand Han Han's website and to glean some insights into why this 27-year-old multimedia phenomenon is so popular, although an outsider trying to do the same for, say, Paris Hilton might still be perplexed about the popularity of this talentless heiress after mastering English.


Anonymous said...

Han Han sounds like a panda's name.

microdot said...

I participate in a blog which has people who post from many diffrent countries. Russia, The Ukraine, France, Belgium....
Some times I post in French, most people post in English, but there is a lot of humor on the blog and we have discovered the game of translating remarks into a different language, then into another and then back again to discover real zen humor.
Sometimes you end up saying somehtong much more profound than what you originally intended but the surreal idiots poetry created by the process is worth it.

lucia said...

I think will be interesting for you to participate in a collaborative translation project http://mymemory.translated.net