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August 5, 2002

The future presses hard upon us
Posted by Teresa at 09:54 PM *

For many years now I’ve had a theory about the coming world language: In the future, everyone on the planet will speak a language they believe is English. Many of these versions of English will be mutually unintelligible.

Look, there goes one now:

Rather wave company for hero wave molding tool factory creating set upping in 1980, is a profession be engaged inning noting the molding tool the design, manufacturing. Our company’s design manufacturing of set request for notinga0 the molding tool the quantity attaining act foring importing, at go together to inside possess the.
I’m awed. That’s like something out of a skiffy story where the universal translator is on the fritz. They’re treating English the way English treats other languages.
Comments on The future presses hard upon us:
#1 ::: Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 02:02 AM:

What I'd really like to know is: is that (a literal translation of) good Japanese?

#2 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 08:14 AM:

It seems to be Chinese, actually, with Hero Wave Molding Tool Company being located in Shanghai and all. Seems to be human-transalted, from the typoes.

I think "Hero Wave" is the part of the name that's supposed to be a "brand," but it's hard to be sure. Since they seem to make cutting tools for wooden moldings, "wave molding" just doesn't seem to work. Maybe somebody who can read the sign on the place can translate it?

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 09:32 AM:

Bob, my guess is the same as yours, that "hero wave" is the name of the company. But maybe not; the opening "Rather wave" suggests that "wave" is operating as something other than a name. That initial "Rather" is a puzzler. It may be that he was shooting for "prefer" or "choose".

This is my tentative guess at how the paragraph breaks down. The first and last lines are the murkiest.

Rather wave company for
hero wave
molding tool factory
creating set upping in 1980,
is
a profession be engaged inning
noting the molding tool the design,
manufacturing.
Our company's design
manufacturing of set
request for notinga0the molding tool
the quantity attaining
act foring importing,
at go together
to inside possess the.

I can't guess what that last bit is supposed to mean, unless it's a mangled version of "taking the inside curve".

His idiosyncratic use of "noting" recurs throughout the document. He has an even more idiosyncratic use of "quilt" that has me completely stumped.

But it's those verbs that get me. They're fabulous. Look at "be engaged inning". That's the phrasal verb "to be engaged in," shorn of its "to" because he didn't understand the infinitive, with "-ing" appended to make it a present-tense verb.

#4 ::: Kip T. Williams ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 09:33 AM:

Inside waits the the hidden now waves meaning the computer without: strum too with summary in button of application service. So, service button with page I simply wage for hand with yield of hidden service upping credit for realization to new hidden wave. Not for nothing notes text now real, formulating levels in onion world of dielectric repeating fractal words mass of hidden words in sum with.

" Rather wave company for hero wave molding tool factory creating set upping in 1980,is a profession be engaged inning noting the molding tool the design, manufacturing. Our company's design manufacturing of set request for noting the molding tool the quantity attaining act foring importing, at go together to inside possess the. " Is this not summated enough that wave ridden hero button now realizes abundant overtaking.

Button lies, summary lies, meaning presses hard the important creating. Mold? "Not even a doom."

Kip

#5 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 10:21 AM:

Yikes!

In five hundred years, people will still be trying to descry the occult meanings of the Oracle of Nostrakipus, "Button lies, summary lies, meaning presses hard the important creating," indeed!

#6 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 11:30 AM:

Where are those fancy Nokias from Bruce Sterling's new F&SF story when you need them?

I particularly like "...and own the fixed assets 2200 ten thousand dollarses, factory premises cover the area 7500 square meterses." Dollarses in its pocketses, my precious!

Can't fault their in their mission statement, though. "The enthusiasm welcomes the domestic and international and new and old customer to come the patronage! Business enterprise target: Applied international management standard, controle the world technique; The creates the top-grade molding tool in world, completely satisfy the customer need." If only our industries over here in Capitalismland were so dedicated.

#7 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 11:36 AM:

This...is wrong tool.

#8 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 11:54 AM:

I spend part of my job at Pitt transcribing student project abstracts for a research Web site.
I saw this sentence today and instantly
thought of you:

Several cardiovascular devices are
undergoing preclinical testing in
the bovine model at our center
to address this issue.

I believe "bovine model" corresponds to
"lab cow."

#9 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 04:56 PM:

`I don't know what the [computer programming] language of the year 2000 will look like, but it will be called Fortran.'
-- C. A. R. Hoare

#10 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 07:23 PM:

Foring your request
Engaged set inning are we
Of the molding tool.

-- Basho-Bazouk

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 08:00 PM:

Coelacanth! Vivisectionist! Thundering son of a sea-gherkin!

#12 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2002, 09:00 PM:

I realize this is cheating, but:
The Captain Haddock Curses

Pyrographers! Abecedarians! Anthracite!

Suddenly I'm having flashbacks to All My Sins Remembered.

#13 ::: Jim Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2002, 05:24 PM:

If we have this sort of trouble translating languages among ourselves, what will we do when the extra-terrestrials come?

#14 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2002, 06:01 PM:

Jim,

1) We won't have enough in common with them to even attempt communication, or to provide any motive for it. Which brings up

2) They probably won't come. Pace Von Daniken (hah!), they haven't been here yet; we're in an out of the way corner gigaparsecs from Trantor, and there are billions of planets like ours out there, only not so dirty, and uninfested with worthless hairy bipeds.

3) They'll be so advanced that they'll communicate via pure thought. 1) still applies. If they can communicate via pure thought, 2) applies in spades!

4) We won't have to, because they'll a) have learned all our languages from TV broadcasts (that guy you heard saying 'groovy'? prob'ly one of 'em); b) have flawless machine translators (a ridiculous concept; if they understood us well enought to make machines that translate our languages, they'd speak dozens of them anyway); or c) wipe us out to the last cryogenically preserved stem cell as soon as they notice us.

5) Send our finest linguistic minds to try to establish communication. After the first attempt to speak their language is made, we'll send our SECOND finest linguistic minds to retrieve the gnawed bones and try again. ("How was I to know 'Noam Chomsky' meant 'please devour my pancreas'?!?!?" Not that Noam Chomsky would be there.)

6) Don't worry your pretty little Earthling head. Everything will be fine, you'll see. We'll make it all better.

#15 ::: Robert L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2002, 09:34 PM:

There is probably tons of this sort of stuff in Asia. And somewhere, some technical editor is being handed copy like this, and being told, "Make it sound good." I have to say, this is a particularly opaque version, though. Have you tried running it back and forth through automatic translators?

#16 ::: Robert L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2002, 09:39 PM:

Oh yes...if you click on "about us" in this link, you find, among other things:

Business enterprise target:Applied international management standard, control the world the technique

With a mold like this, I could, dare I say it...

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 12:03 AM:

What will we do when the ETs show up? We'll try very, very hard to keep our linguistic theoreticians from killing each other in knife fights.

#18 ::: Christopher "Linguo-Thug" Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 01:11 PM:

Right on. I can take Noam Chomsky down in two transformations: Move Alpha (fist to chin) and Move Alpha (Chomsky to floor).

[insert plausible WWF yell about here]

#19 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 01:20 PM:

Chomsky might very well decide that the ETs were "not interesting." Then he'd get them blackballed.

#20 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 03:10 PM:

Or he'd decide that the MEANING of what they were saying wasn't important, as long as he could generate all their utterances accurately.

Or if they invaded and and wiped out an entire nation or ethnic group, he'd support people who denied that it ever happened.

#21 ::: spacewaitress ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 03:57 PM:

"Seems to be human-transalted, from the typoes."

Hee!

Transalted.

(or was this intentional?)

Perhaps a new word for when languages are translated badly enough to inflict harm -- Transaulted.

#22 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 04:32 PM:

No, it's just salted across instead of slated across...the salt, you see, sucks all the meaning out in the process.

Or maybe it's a reference to taking it with a grain of salt - or, as Judy Harrow used to say, with "a small Siberian salt mine."

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2002, 05:39 PM:

Transaltation (which is only correlate to saltation, the process by which words suddenly grow feathers) is the function of that well-known science-fictional device for instantaneous interstellar miscommunication, the Anbecile.

#24 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2002, 06:37 PM:

If words grow feathers to keep warm and then later refactor for flying, what use summer saltations?

#25 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2002, 09:45 PM:

Damien, I'll have to keep turning that over in my mind.

#26 ::: Lucian C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2002, 11:01 PM:

"In the future, everyone on the planet will speak a language they believe is English."

In fact, many Americans do this already.

#27 ::: Lucian C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2002, 11:25 PM:

Oh, and by the way, here's some English from an article in Le Figaro last April, translated by what I presume is a machine. (This is just the first paragraph. Eleven equally good ones follow it.) Watch out for those politologists now:


"After the seism, the time of the analysis and reflexion. The shortly after the first turn of the presidential election, marked by the incredible opening of Jean-Marie the PEN (16,86% of the votes at the national level) and the elimination of Lionel Jospin, analysts and politologists the results of April auscultate 21, to try to include/understand nature, the springs and the distinctive features this electoral success until one did not wait."

#28 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2002, 02:35 AM:

Wasn't Jean-Marie the Pen a Batman villain from the Bill Finger era? Story involved this gigantic table that belonged to his aunt?

Though what "auscultate" is doing hanging around with all those other words I don't know. Probably like the optometrist who was killed in the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

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