Tag Archives: spanish

We’re in the fourth inning

Let me start today’s post by honoring a revolutionary world inventor, Steve Jobs, on his passing, just a day after the new iPhone 4S was announced by Tim Cook this week. Some bloggers and news outlets were underwhelmed by this new iteration of the famous gizmo. There is one experimental feature, however, that deserves special mention.

Siri is a new feature in the iPhone 4S. According to media reports, it allows the user to speak to the phone not just statements like “Call Stan to go watch Thor” but queries such as “Any Jiffy Lubes in Orlando?” as well. While Siri is in beta mode (in English only, I suppose), I can imagine the use of its artificial intelligence (A.I.) engine to infer meaning from statements in other languages.

According to Fox News Latino, Spanish will be a challenge for voice recognition in Siri. So, we are forced to sit on our hands and wait. If A.I. through Siri could interpret Spanish phrases and commands in a fairly accurate fashion, it won’t be machine translation per se, but a new kind of computerized, on-the-fly foreign language interpretation.

In yesterday’s issue of USA Today’s Money section, Mike Thompson, mobile business head at Nuance Communications, says “We’re in the fourth inning –the rate of change and innovation is faster than ever before in speech. The accuracy and performance [are] getting better. (In the) next five innings, we’ll see greater and greater natural language.” I was happy to find a technical text with a sports metaphor. This can be an excellent exercise in writing to test your Spanish writers and translators.

Spanish translators knowledgeable in baseball understand the meaning of inning, one of nine divisions of play. It’s called entrada or manga in Spanish. Most translation services providers like to talk about high quality, faithful translations. Almost no one says a word about translation strategies or techniques, which are learned through a rigorous study of translation theories applied to practice.

If we use the equivalence strategy, we could search for a sports equivalence in Spanish –soccer or baseball, perhaps? But what about the meaning underneath the sports figure of speech? What does the author say with in the fourth inning? What does he say with in the next five innings? It doesn’t take us long to realize that the fourth inning is very close to half of the baseball game at 9 innings, as if he were saying we’re almost halfway.

How would your Spanish writer or translator express this?


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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, Spanish language, Style

Conspiracy theories

Two nights ago, I took part in a debate about whether the death of Osama bin Laden had been a CIA fabrication. The other two people in the discussion live in Argentina. They both favor certain conspiracy theories that have long been debunked, such as the 9/11 attack was orchestrated by the U.S. government or that Osama bin Laden had been dead for some time now.

Fringe myths have been with humankind since humans began to talk to each other. There is good and bad gossip, and there are entertaining and dangerous myths. Language is not without its tall tales and misconceptions born out of misinformation, prejudice, ignorance or fear.

In Spanish in particular, I found the following ‘theories’:

a) Spanish-speaking people in all 22 countries where Spanish is used speak the same Spanish.
b) Spanish-speaking immigrants in the United States are fully bilingual.
c) Spanish translators are bilingual typists.
d) Spanish interpreters can also translate.
e) Castillian Spanish is too different from Latin American Spanish.
f) The Real Academia Española is out of touch with the way Spanish is currently used.
g) Educated Spanish speakers everywhere love headings with all the words capitalized.
h) Spanish immigrants from Mexico are all uneducated.

I am certain there are more out there. If you have any stories or ‘theories’, please share them here.

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Filed under Etymology, Spanish language, Word formation

Welcome to Wordsmeet, where good Spanish language services can be found

Are you looking for a translation-related blog that is not just ranting against machine translation and low rates paid to translators? This blog is devoted to providing top-notch services to my customers far and wide across this interconnected globe and to the occasional translation-related platitude.

For Spanish translation quotes or inquiries, please email me at spanisphere@gmail.com.

Apologies for the appearance, but I am building this site bit by bit, palabra por palabra.

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Filed under Translation