On Interviewing Translators.

Well, it’s not really about interviewing translators, it’s about interviewing coders, using translators as a stand-in: What if companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders? by Jose Aguinaga. But how can I resist something that has questions like “how did the Arabic invasion in the Iberian Peninsula between the years of 711 and 1492 affected the Spanish language?” and

So next question: the words “pater”, “father”, “Vater”, are from Latin, English, and German respectively; we can see in some cases the “p” evolved to a “v”, but in others evolved to a “f”. The words “piscis”, “fish”, and “Fisch”, in the other hand–

and a demand to translate ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΙΔΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΕΠΙΒΙΟΝΤΟΣ on a whiteboard?

Via MetaFilter (where the discussion, of course, is entirely about coding except for somebody who pointed out the error in the Arabic invasion question).


  1. David Marjanović says

    we can see in some cases the “p” evolved to a “v”, but in others evolved to a “f”.

    Early OHG [f], spelled f > Late OHG, MHG [v], spelled v/u, same sound shift as in Dutch, analogous to the sound shift around Somerset that gave you vat and vixen. Then, this phenomenon was undone completely in pronunciation (like in northern Dutch), but only half so in spelling, so f and v are now randomly distributed in native words, and Vater is back at [f].

    (Perhaps the voicing was a western phenomenon that never got east, and when Upper Saxon became fashionable, [f] became prestigious again… I have no idea. The only dialects that preserve [v] are the ones somewhere between heaven and Switzerland, e.g. above the Aosta valley in Italy. …Strangely, [z] – the voicing wasn’t limited to /f/ – is still mainstream except in Upper German. It’s all very confusing.)

  2. Bathrobe says

    So the Ancient Greek title of “The Boy Who Lived” is ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΙΔΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΕΠΙΒΙΟΝΤΟΣ.

    And the modern Greek title is Το αγόρι που σώθηκε.

    Having trouble seeing any similarities.

  3. Well, there’s ΤΟΥ and Το…

  4. For the grammar of ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΙΔΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΕΠΙΒΙΟΝΤΟΣ, 1158 is the relevant section in Smyth's Grammar:

    "[*] 1158. (2) Less often, the article and the attributive follow the noun preceded by the article: ὁ ἀνὴρ ὁ σοφός the wise man. Thus, ““τὸ στράτευμα τὸ τῶν Ἀθηναίων” the army of the Athenians” T. 8.50, ““ἐν τῇ πορείᾳ τῇ μέχρι ἐπὶ θάλατταν” on the journey as far as the sea” X. A. 5.1.1. In this arrangement the emphasis is on the noun, as something definite or previously mentioned, and the attributive is added by way of explanation. So τοὺς κύνας τοὺς χαλεποὺς διδέα_σι they tie up the dogs, the savage ones (I mean) X. A. 5.8.24."

    So the intended meaning is "about the boy, the one who survived"

  5. –Translator Master? That sounds fancy. How many languages does the Translator Master speak? Do we get assistance from him if we are stuck in a translation or anything?
    -Oh, he actually only speaks English, and well, sometimes we don’t understand him very well. He’s Australian, so his accent is hard to grasp sometimes

    Reminds me of old joke.

    -How much is that parrot?
    -100 bucks.
    -why so expensive?
    -it talks.
    -and this green one?
    -200 bucks.
    -why so expensive?
    -speaks in two languages.
    -and the third one?
    -vow, must be a real polyglot then?
    -no, actually this one doesn’t speak at all.
    – but why so expensive?
    – the other two call him “boss”

  6. The infamous Google interview questions of the past were usually Fermi questions, so a more likely analog would be to ask the translator to translate Jabberwocky.
    It would establish that the translator is capable of stretching limits, but the results wouldn’t necessarily point to a good tech translator.


  1. […] Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were […]

Speak Your Mind