Carefully Translate

25 Jun 2015

I love how this translation is technically correct (and perfect English, mind you)… outside of context:

Untitled

As usual, context is key for a correct translation.

This sentence is ambiguous because of the word 地. Is it (de, neutral tone), the structural particle that turns words into adverbs? Or is it (dì, fourth tone), meaning “ground”?

If it’s the former, you get, “carefully slide.” If it’s the latter, you get, “be careful; the ground is slippery.” Computers, those infamously stupid translators, still have a hard time with context.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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