Slut, Hath, DeepL.

1) Alison Flood writes in the Graun about a literary mystery that has apparently been solved:

The word “slut” scrawled at the end of the manuscript for John Steinbeck’s seminal novel The Grapes of Wrath may have been explained, thanks to a handful of Swedish academics. […] But after the Guardian article about the facsimile was published, a handful of Swedish scholars got in touch with Shillinglaw, pointing out the meaning of “slut” in Swedish. “It is the Swedish expression for ‘the end’, used on the last page of all kinds of books, especially children’s books,” wrote Jonathan Shaheen, an academic at Stockholm University, to Shillinglaw. “A well placed ‘slut’ always makes me laugh. I wonder if it might’ve been the same for Steinbeck or his wife, who I believe visited Sweden in 1937. As bookish types they might well have discovered the word. They might even have used it as an inside joke, as I have known other Americans around here to do.”

You can see an image of the MS at the link.

2) Avva (Anatoly Vorobey) posts (in Russian) about Shakespeare’s line (from Macbeth) “The earth hath bubbles, as the water has” and wonders why the different forms of the verb. He consulted a bunch of sources and got no answers; the best suggestion seems to be that Shakespeare just wanted the variation. (“Hath” is noticeably more common in the plays.)

3) I learn (from this very useful Reddit thread) that DeepL is better for the languages it covers than Google Translate; its performance with German is particularly praised. Check it out.

Comments

  1. Kate Bunting says

    Was it Monty Python who once ended a film sequence in the French manner with FIN – over a photo of a shark’s dorsal fin?

  2. 1) “Slut” puzzled me and then cracked me up too, exactly the same.
    3) Agree on DeepL. I learned about it through its cousin Linguee, an essential adjunct to a bilingual dictionary. It looks up words and phrases in bilingual texts, and so gives you lots of examples of the desired text and its translation in context, for which dictionaries often are inadequate.

  3. J.W. Brewer says

    I saw the Steinbeck/slut story the other day and thought it would be of Hattic interest. I am pleased to say that my (subconscious) assumption that it would come to your attention whether or not I send you an email about it proved correct!

    Once the Swedish meaning was revealed it seemed straightforward as presumably cognate to German Schluss, but when I actually google I couldn’t quite get direct confirmation of that quickly and couldn’t be bothered to dig into more scholarly sources.

  4. If I had been the author of Macbeth, I absolutely would have been doing it just for the assonance. earth/hath, bubbles/as/has.

  5. I am pleased to say that my (subconscious) assumption that it would come to your attention whether or not I send you an email about it proved correct!

    I am now getting notified of relevant stories by direct cortical input, thanks to the nanodevice implanted by my Covid shot.

  6. Google translate’s performance with German is awful.

    My first idea was “anything [similar to Google Translate, but] made in Germany will outperform it with German”.
    I do not think that German syntax is undefeatable.

    And yes, made in Germany.

  7. J.W. Brewer says

    Do we have specific languages other than German as to which someone knowledgeable-seeming has specifically praised the superiority of DeepL? The “made in Germany” angle provides a plausible basis for it to potentially be better there w/o necessarily being better elsewhere.

  8. Do we have specific languages other than German as to which someone knowledgeable-seeming has specifically praised the superiority of DeepL?

    DeepL:

    In the midst of the journey of our life
    I found myself in a forest dark,
    For the straight way was lost.
    How hard it is to say what it was
    This forest wild and rugged and strong
    That in thought revives the fear!
    So bitter is it, that little is more death;
    But to treat of the good that I found there,
    I’ll tell of the other things I have stored there.

    GT:

    In the midst of the journey of our life
    I found myself in a forest dark,
    For the straight way was lost.
    How hard it is to say what it was
    This forest wild and rugged and strong
    That in thought revives the fear!
    So bitter is it, that little is more death;
    But to treat of the good that I found there,
    I’ll tell of the other things I have stored there.

    Somebody’s cribbing?

  9. OK, that’s weird.

  10. Well, 1) it is a well-known text which probably belongs in the traning corpus for both GT and DeepL; 2) it is not unknown for smaller competitors to use a more established engine as their first pass for a search, which they than are trying to improve on. Why not for translation?

  11. Ким Чен Ир с радостью сказал, что сделанную на фабрике зимнюю обувь с высокими голенищами полюбят не только рабочие лесопромышленности, но и живущие в холодных местах люди, и высоко оценил, что ее коллектив завершил много дел.

    DL
    Kim Jong Il happily said that winter boots with high cuffs made by the factory are loved not only by the forestry workers but also by the people living in cold places, and he praised the fact that the factory staff has completed many works.
    GT
    Kim Jong Il was delighted to say that the factory-made winter shoes with high tops will be loved not only by workers in the timber industry, but also by people living in cold places, and highly appreciated that her team has completed a lot of work.

  12. GT      DeepL      comment
    My uncle has the most honest rules // My uncle of the most honest rules, // nobody translates this line correctly
    When seriously ill, // When he was sick and not in jest, // advantage (small) GT
    He made himself respect // He made himself respected // advantage DeepL
    And I could not have imagined it better. // And could not think of a better one. // advantage DeepL
    His example to others is science; // His example is a lesson to others; // GT? Huh?
    But oh my god, what a boredom // But, good heavens, what a bore // draw
    Sitting with a sick person day and night, // To sit with a sick man day and night, // draw
    Without leaving a single step away! // Without a step out of the way! // draw
    What a base deceit // What a low insidiousness // GT
    To amuse half-dead // To amuse a half-dead man, // DeepL
    To correct his pillows, // To adjust his pillows, // DeepL
    It’s sad to bring medicine // To bring the medicine sadly to him, // DeepL
    Sigh and think to yourself: // To sigh and think to myself: // GT
    When will the devil take you! // When the devil take thee! // GT (thee???)

    Overall miserable quality, both of them. But at least no cheating (the word that probably should have been used for translating коварство in this context).

  13. cuchuflete says

    ”Do we have specific languages other than German as to which someone knowledgeable-seeming has specifically praised the superiority of DeepL?”

    I’ve used both DeepL and GT to attempt translations of some Brazilian Portuguese lyrics.
    Both had trouble with some slang expressions, but, overall, DeepL produced consistently idiomatic translations. For common expressions, they can both miss the mark by a bit.

    For example, Google rendered ‘Puxa vida!’ as “Oh boy” while Deepl offers “Oh goodness!” for AE and “Oh, Dear!” for BE. I’d go with “For goodness sake!” to include irritation, or “Jesus!” or “Good Lord,” for a more emphatic statement.

    One translator’s dictionary offers the following:

    my gosh
    for Christ sake
    man alive
    oh man
    blimey
    geez louise
    for god’s sake
    Oh, man
    Holy moly
    Oh my goodness

    To get a better sense of the difference between the two machine translators, I tried Vinicius de Moraes’s Cotidiano N° 2. Google committed atrocities, while DeepL was pretty good. Note that the opening line is, intentionally, Spanish rather than PT BR.

    Hay dias que no sé lo que me pasa
    Eu abro meu Neruda e apago o sol
    Misturo poesia com cachaça
    e acabo discutindo futebol

    Mas não tem na- da, não
    Tenho meu vi- o- lão

    Acordo de manhã, pão com manteiga
    e muito, muito sangue no jornal
    aí a criançada toda chega
    e eu chego a achar Herodes natural

    Mas não tem na- da, não
    Tenho meu vi- o- lão

    Depois faço a loteca com a patroa
    quem sabe nosso dia vai chegar
    e rio porque rico ri à toa
    também não custa nada imaginar

    Mas não tem na- da, não
    tenho meu vi- o- lão
    Mas não tem na- da, não
    tenho meu vi- o- lão

    Aos sábados em casa tomo um porre
    e sonho soluções fenomenais
    mas quando o sono vem a noite morre
    o dia conta histórias sempre iguais

    Mas não tem na- da, não
    tenho meu vi- o- lão

    Às vezes quero crer, mas não consigo,
    é tudo uma total insensatez
    Aí pergunto a Deus: “Escute, amigo,
    se foi pra desfazer por que é que fez?”

    Mas não tem na- da, não
    tenho meu vi- o- lão
    Mas não tem na- da, não

    GT-

    It’s been a day that’s not gone by
    I open my Neruda and turn off the sun
    I mix poetry with cachaça
    and I end up discussing football

    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo

    Wake up in the morning, bread and butter
    and a lot, a lot of blood in the newspaper
    then all the kids arrive
    and I even find Herod natural

    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo

    Then I do the lotca with the boss
    maybe our day will come
    and laugh because rich laughs for nothing
    it doesn’t hurt to imagine either

    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo
    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo

    On Saturdays at home I get drunk
    and dream phenomenal solutions
    but when sleep comes the night dies
    the day tells stories always the same

    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo

    Sometimes I want to believe, but I can’t,
    it’s all total nonsense
    Then I ask God: “Listen, friend,
    if you went to undo why did you do it?”

    But there’s nothing, no
    I have my vi- o-loo
    But there’s nothing, no

    DeepL-

    Hay dias que no sé lo que me pasa
    I open my Neruda and turn off the sun
    I mix poetry with cachaça
    and end up discussing soccer

    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion

    I wake up in the morning, bread and butter
    and lots and lots of blood in the newspaper
    then all the kids arrive
    and I even find Herod natural

    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion

    Then I’ll do the lottery with the missus
    who knows our day will come
    and laugh because rich laughs for nothing
    it also costs nothing to imagine

    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion
    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion

    On Saturdays at home I get drunk
    and dream phenomenal solutions
    but when sleep comes the night dies
    the day always tells the same stories

    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion

    Sometimes I want to believe, but I can’t,
    it’s all total nonsense
    Then I ask God, “Listen, my friend,
    if it was to undo why did you do it?”

    But there is nothing, no
    I have my vi- o- lion
    But there is nothing, no

    They both dealt with violão(guitar) as it was written in the original lyric, Vi-o-lão.

  14. David Eddyshaw says

    DeepL doesn’t do Welsh. Need I say more?

  15. No.

  16. Whereof one cannot speak in Welsh, thereof one must be silent.

  17. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I somehow feel like a thing called Deep-whatever is going to end up trying to translate me, or something equally disturbing.

  18. Stu Clayton says

    I tried DeepL on several samples of German. As cuchuflete wrote about Portuguese samples, it produced consistently idiomatic translations.

    Even from a typical sample of hoity-toity mumbo-jumbo in German, DeepL produced reasonable h-t m-j in English. But, for some reason, it sometimes tries to interpret linebreaks as new sentences, and then repeats itself.

    German [copied out of a PDF, thus the formatting]
    # Der Versuch, die
    zum Teil frappierend ähnlichen, teilweise aber auch stark divergierenden Zugangsweisen zeitgenössischer Theoriebildungen zur Differenzsetzung unter einen Hut zu bringen, schlug sich selbstredend in
    dem Untertitel des Projektansuchens “Geschlechterforschung als
    transdisziplinäre Beobachtung und Performanz von Differenz” nieder.
    #

    This becomes
    # The attempt to reconcile the
    The attempt to reconcile the partly strikingly similar, but partly also strongly diverging approaches of contemporary theorizing on the setting of difference was of course reflected in the
    the subtitle of the project application “Gender studies as a transdisciplinary
    transdisciplinary observation and performance of difference”. #

    “was reflected” is good for schlug sich nieder, which might be taken to mean “deal yourself a sucker-punch”.

  19. Jen in Edinburgh says

    But I’ve tracked down the ‘slutt’ (in Norwegian spelling) that was on the tip of my mind – it’s Lillebjorn Nilsen’s Gategutt

    I krematoriet skal min hvite ild
    til slutt.

    Which has nothing to do with Steinbeck, but is a relief to me!

  20. But, for some reason, it sometimes tries to interpret linebreaks as new sentences, and then repeats itself.

    I had the same thing happen with Russian input.

  21. All languages are Welsh (even if they don’t know it). Therefore it does Welsh.

  22. Swedish slut and German Schluss: according to the Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen edited under the direction of Wolfgang Pfeifer, Schluss (Middle Low German slut) is a late medieval derivation from schließen (“to close”), a verb which is apparently missing from North and East Germanic. So if the Swedish word is in any way related, it must be a Low German loan.

  23. You got me excited about the website, but they don’t have Vietnamese…

  24. the best suggestion seems to be that Shakespeare just wanted the variation.

    Or Thomas Middleton (who apparently is responsible for the version of Macbeth we have), or a scribe, or the typesetter.

  25. they don’t have Vietnamese

    How is GT for Vietnamese?

  26. J.W. Brewer says

    Shakespeare (or whoever) was apparently not pursuing a consistent strategy in favor of “elegant variation” to avoid repeating a word within the same line, as witness elsewhere in Macbeth where repetition has an aesthetic effect of its own:

    That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;
    What hath quench’d them hath given me fire.

    OTOH, there’s also no taboo against using the minority variant in consecutive lines:

    She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of
    that: heaven knows what she has known.

    It’s probably too small a sample size to find it significant that while “hath” is almost three times as common as “has” in the play as a whole, “has” is more common (two instances to one) in line-final position.

    But note the use of both in this little exchange where one is line-final and the other isn’t:

    MACBETH
    Hath he ask’d for me?
    LADY MACBETH
    Know you not he has?

  27. For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
    With her that hateth thee and hates us all
    (2 Henry VI, II.4)

  28. J.W. Brewer says

    Well, unlike “hath” v. “has,” the differences between “hateth” and “hates” include two syllables versus one, which seems relevant to understanding the wording choice in the Henry VI line.

  29. David Eddyshaw says

    I’ve read somewhere that the spelling “hath” still appeared pretty constantly for some time after the actual pronunciation had consistently changed to “has” in the seventeenth century (likewise “doth/does.”) I’m not sure quite how one could be certain of this, but it this was already a thing for Shakespeare, conceivably this might just be a question of fluctuating spelling (hardly unusual for the period) rather than actual variation. As JWB points out, there’s no metrical difference in these words to confirm that it’s real-life variation.

  30. J.W. Brewer says

    @DE, well you could look for line-final instances of both variations in the subset of the Shakespearian corpus that rhymes and see what has/hath are rhymed with. Although I guess it’s possible that even if the default pronunciation-regardless-of-spelling was already “has” you could throw out a hath-pronounced-as-such variant pronunciation to force a rhyme to work. Worse hath been done in the service of doggerel over the centuries. Of course in modern AmEng* “has” is a more difficult one to rhyme and Shakespeare didn’t even have access to candidates like “jazz” and “razzmatazz.”

    *Do “hath” and “bath” rhyme for foreigners without the BATH/TRAP merger? Although of course Shakespeare’s vowels did not necessarily match either current AmEng or current BrEng.

  31. Y,
    Google Translate is quite bad for Vietnamese, though it could be because Vietnamese & English are very different (GT isn’t too bad for English-Norwegian, for example). That’s why I wanted to check another website.

  32. The -s forms start appearing in the later plays. The earliest ones have only -th forms.

  33. J.W. Brewer says

    Separately, when you click through to the Russian discussion of Macbeth hat linked to, you see a shot of what I think is a First Folio facsimile where the line ends “as the Water ha’s.” What the heck is that apostrophe doing there? It doesn’t seem like it should be marking an elided letter-and-maybe-phoneme like the “vanish’d” in the next line. A random one-off, or a common usage of the time with which I was not previously familiar?

  34. I used DeepL to translate an Italian paper from a conference. I did it because my Italian is slow, but it’s good enough for me to tell that it was a very good translation that needed only a little editing of awkwardnesses. One caveat: the translation of most of the paper was fine, but I’m a medievalist, as is the author of the paper, and there were a few fifteenth-century quotations, which DeepL did not handle well. Since Dante’s language is even earlier, perhaps that has a bearing on the mysterious duplication.

  35. What the heck is that apostrophe doing there?

    He wonders about that too, and if you scroll about halfway down the page you’ll see a screenshot (in English) from the Twelfth Night Arden ed. (Third Series), which says that “ha’s” is an idiosyncrasy of Compositor B.

  36. J.W. Brewer says

    I must say that “Compositor B” is a rather humdrum name for a historical personage of unknown actual name, contrasting unfavorably with the likes of the painter known as “Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece.”

  37. The Master of the Inexplicable Apostrophe.

  38. Perhaps Compositor B had a second job as a grocer.

  39. He did the placards for the theater: SHAKESPEARE: HE HA’S THE BEST PLAY’S!

  40. The opportunities are endless:

    Love’s Labor’s Lost
    Alls Well That End’s Well
    Pericle’s
    The Merry Wive’s of Windsor

    etc etc

  41. PlasticPaddy says

    Compositor B presumably conjugates to have as have(s) haves(t) haves and writes the h, even though it is not pronounced, because he is a man of some heducation.

  42. Henry the Sick’sth

  43. David Marjanović says

    …the Sixt, actually, and the Fift. The analogy that created the impressive fricative clusters happened later.

    Compositor B presumably conjugates to have as have(s) haves(t) haves and writes the h, even though it is not pronounced, because he is a man of some heducation.

    MHG still had long and short forms of the whole paradigm of this and a few other verbs. Standard German has picked forms more or less at random to create a single paradigm for haben, while Alemannic is famous in narrow circles for its Kurzverben. Even outside Alemannic, the 1sg present is not (a direct cognate of) habe in some dialects, but han.

  44. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Jamie the Saxt

  45. Somebody’s cribbing? (Dante comparison)

    Can anybody repeat that? I got significantly different results from Google, and slightly different results from DeepL, assuming you entered the same 9 lines in Italian, with linebreaks. Google failed hard on line 4: “Ouch as to say what it was is hard thing”, vs. DeepL’s “How hard it is to say what it was”.

    And I doubt they would use poetry in the training corpus for a modern language, especially medieval poetry. In any case, these lines couldn’t have been slurped from a corpus (though some are close to existing translations): no human would write “little is more death” instead of “death is little more”, and no human would translate line 9 as “things I have stored there” instead of “things I have seen there”.

  46. ktschwarz: I tried again, and got what you got. The “forest dark” is now “dark forest”, too. The training corpuses must have changed since this morning. Maybe I ran it before they had had their coffee.

    Line breaks don’t make a difference, though that’s certainly not a given.

  47. Maybe you accidentally copy-pasted DeepL’s English output into GT’s input box, instead of the Italian?

  48. We’ll never know now.

  49. syntax – I meant, German word order drives Google mad:(

    I posted this above without clarification:

    DL: Kim Jong Il happily said that winter boots with high cuffs made by the factory are loved not only by the forestry workers but also by the people living in cold places, and he praised the fact that the factory staff has completed many works.
    GT: Kim Jong Il was delighted to say that the factory-made winter shoes with high tops will be loved not only by workers in the timber industry, but also by people living in cold places, and highly appreciated that her team has completed a lot of work.

    What I meant: DL substituted “her” from the original with “factory”. In Russian this “her” could be substituted with “of factory”. Here and in some other places DL behaves as if it studied syntax.

  50. Whcih can explain why people say it is better.

    It would be interesting to find some tough Chinese text (a text where they both produce difficult to read output) and see, who is better.

    DeepL’s page in Chinese Wikipedia, unfortunately, is more or less readable in both. Persian and Arabic can be fairly difficult for Google, but I want semantic horror.

  51. Ouch. It does not even have Persian. Only: Japanese, Chinese, and Euro-Finno-Ugric.

  52. Better to do a few things well than many badly.

  53. I have a friend who translates Chinese to English. I recommended Deep L to him, and he definitely found it superior to Google Translate.

    (Sure, he’s supposed to do all the translating himself, but a good machine translation can help save a lot of time.)

  54. It was not a criticism, it just limits our testing opportunities:)

    As for usability, two very meaningful directions of expansion are: (1) covering langauges that GT does not cover (2) improving results for German, Arabic etc. Both times you are unique. I do not expect machine learning guys to take much interest in the former (they are not linguists and obtaining a corpus is an issue). I also do not expect them to start from the latter but for a different reason. I am grateful anyway.

    If it is good for German, they have already improved lives of some people like me (I still try to decipher German, and when I use GT I am even glad that the translation is incomplete, but anyway). Persian would have improved lives of many Persian speakers maybe, who, famously, are not good at English, while with Indic it looks commercially viable. Persians can’t send / receive money from/in Iran wihtout танцы с бубном even when they have money:-(

  55. when I use GT I am even glad that the translation is incomplete

    Because it gives you a chance to exercise your imagination and creativity?

  56. I am not “learning” German, but I am doing it the same way as I was not learning English and French in 90s. If I still have to look at the German text, translate some words and process German word order on my own it still, maybe, amounts to reading a (very) simplified German text or using an analytical tool. I learn at least something new. And the temptation to use it more often is less strong:)

    P.S. My approach have always been “if I want to learn somethign, I read it” – at least for European Indo-European. That is, not to be afraid of langauges I do not know.
    I am not sure if the goal was learning anything… rather I did not want to limit my reading, and also I enjoy the process.

    Machine translation does serve the former goal (not limiting myself with Russian texts), but it ruins the second part (enjoying the process). So I try to find some balance, and for every language I do it differently.

  57. “Ruins” is an exaggeration: the feeling of freedom, that I can read in Dutch and ignore the fact that I have never “studied” it and am not “supposed” to even try – this feeling is now, hopefully, familiar to many users of GT who chose to ignore cultural borders.

  58. Stu Clayton says

    If they are borders of cultural ignorance, “choice” is not an option. Here freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

  59. I find it quite hard to say “With her that hateth thee” three times fast

  60. I can report that, as you might expect, both engines translate the canonical sentences

    “My hovercraft is full of eels”

    and

    “My nipples explode with delight”

    competently into Hungarian. But Google Translate is better on the second one, converting ‘nipples’ to the singular, as is usual for paired body parts. This suggests to me that DeepL, at least, is translating unseen; you’d think they would have these in their corpus.

  61. Well, Chinese Wikipedia about somethin (I hope) less translatable:

    DL:

    But although it was a bugbear, the idle man did not let go, but still in the nearest place to him touched five or six heads, and only then satisfied with the victory, he thought Q this time can be a plague. However, less than ten seconds, Q is also satisfied with the victory to go, he felt he was the first person to be able to despise themselves, in addition to “despise themselves” does not count, the rest is “the first”. The first prize winner is also the “first”, isn’t it? “What are you? -A Q

    A Q “mostly lived in Wei Zhuang, but also often stayed elsewhere, can not be said to be Wei Zhuang people, even to say that “Wei Zhuang people also”, but still there is a violation of the historical law”, all alone, poor, often work for Zhao Tai Ye short work, but often treated harshly by Zhao Tai Ye. He was often treated harshly by Mrs. Zhao. He was often looked down upon, but Q often used the “spiritual victory method” to comfort himself.

    One day, Ah Q is beaten up by a despised Wang Hu and a disgusting fake foreign devil. When he was angry, he met a little nun. A Q mocked up a bit, made people laugh, and only then to express their feelings. However, Q thought about spring and stayed up all night thinking about it. The company’s main business is to provide a wide range of products and services to its customers. The family used this to extort money from Q and stopped giving him work. Since then, all the work of the Zhao family was given to D. A Q suffered a lot of hunger and cold and pawned all his belongings. When he finally decided to go out to seek food, he arrived at the meditation nunnery and plucked a few old radishes, but was chased by black dogs and was in great trouble. At this point, Ah Q decided to enter the city. After some days, when people saw Q dressed in bright clothes, they all flattered Q. People’s attitude changed and they asked him for goods in the city, but later they learned that Q had entered the city to be a thief, and they no longer feared him.

    Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

    GT:

    But even though it was a worm, the idler didn’t let it go. He still bumped him five or six bangs somewhere nearby. Only then did he go away contentedly and triumphantly. He thought Ah Q had suffered a plague this time. However, in less than ten seconds, Ah Q left victoriously contentedly. He felt that he was the first person to be able to despise himself. Except for “self-conceited”, the rest was “the first one.” “. Isn’t the champion also “the first”? “What are you?” ? ──The True Story of Ah Q

    Ah Q “lives more in Weizhuang, but often stays elsewhere. I can’t say that he is from Weizhuang. Even if he is from Weizhuang, he still has a history of obedience.” Doing part-time job, but often treated harshly by Mrs. Zhao. On weekdays, people look down on him more often, but Ah Q uses the “spiritual victory method” to comfort himself.

    One day, Ah Q provokes the despised Wang Hu again, and ran into a nasty fake foreign devil, and was beaten up. Just when he was indignant, he greeted the little nun. Ah Q molested him, and only after he made people laugh, he had to express his feelings. But Ah Q thought about spring here, staying up all night, thinking about it wildly. Another day, Ah Q was pounding rice in the Zhao’s family, and he was rude to Wu Ma, a female worker in the Zhao’s family. The Zhao family used this to extort Ah Q for money, not to mention no more work for him. Since then, Zhao’s work has been handed over to Xiao D. Ah Q spent many days starving and catching the cold, pawning all his belongings. Finally decided to go out for food, and when he arrived at Jingxiu Nunnery, he pulled out a few old turnips, but was chased by a black dog in embarrassment. At this time, Ah Q was determined to enter the city. After a few days, when people saw Ah Q was dressed well, they all flattered Ah Q. People’s attitudes changed and they all asked him for goods from the city, but later learned that Ah Q had entered the city as a thief and no longer feared him.

  62. Head louse (Wiki, Finnish)
    Päätäi (Pediculus humanus var. capitis) on väiveiden ja täiden lahkoon kuuluva 2–3 mm pitkä siivetön hyönteislaji, joka loisii ihmisissä. Nykytietämyksen mukaan se on vaatetäin (Pediculus humanus var. humanus) kanssa samaa lajia eikä muodosta edes alalajin tasoista taksonia. Kuoriutumisen jälkeen täi voi olla hyvin vaalea tai melkein musta. Täin väri riippuu usein hiusten väristä.

    GT
    The head lice (Pediculus humanus var. Capitis) is a 2-3 mm long wingless insect species belonging to the order of lice and lice that parasites in humans. According to current knowledge, it is of the same species as the garland (Pediculus humanus var. Humanus) and does not even form a subspecies-level taxon. After hatching, the lice can be very pale or almost black. The color of the lice often depends on the color of the hair.

    GL
    The head louse (Pediculus humanus var. capitis) is a 2-3 mm long wingless insect of the lice and aphid order that parasitises humans. According to current knowledge, it is the same species as the cassava (Pediculus humanus var. humanus) and does not even form a subspecies taxon. After hatching, the lice may be very pale or almost black. The colour of the lice often depends on the colour of the hair.

    väiveiden (gen. pl. of väive) ‘sucking louse’ (Mallophaga)
    GT
    lice
    GL
    aphid

    kanssa = (together) with
    GT
    garland
    GL
    cassava (Where is my tucupi?)

  63. vaatetäi ‘body louse’

  64. Re ‘Slut’

    The archetypal Swedish fairytale ends with the nonsense-verse ‘snipp snapp snut – så var sagan slut’ (roughly ‘bing bang bend – the story comes to an end.’)

    The novel ‘The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ has a minor sub-plot where a disillusioned typesetter adds that as a last verse to a batch of bibles. In the English translation it becomes ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’
    It doesn’t quite carry the same connotations – but it’s a neat ending.

  65. PlasticPaddy says

    Toen hij voor de huisdeur stond, dacht hij: Er is geen enkele geldige reden, waarom deze avond zou moeten mislukken. Ik heb een vermoeden dat hij slaagt. Een avond waarvan het verloop van te voren vaststaat, kan onmogelijk een mislukking worden. Men dient zich niets meer voor te stellen, dan verwacht kan worden, dat is alles.
    DeepL
    As he stood at the house door, he thought: There is no valid reason why this evening should fail. I have a suspicion that it will succeed. An evening of which the course is determined in advance cannot possibly be a failure. One should not imagine anything more than can be expected, that is all.

    GT
    As he stood at the front door, he thought: There is no valid reason why this evening should fail. I suspect he will succeed. An evening whose course is predetermined cannot possibly turn out to be a failure. One should not imagine anything more than can be expected, that is all.

    Note:
    1. GT has “he will succeed”. Even though the cognate Abend is also “he” in German, DeepL has correctly “it”.
    2. Both GT and DeepL translate “zou moeten mislukken” as “should fail”, rather than “should have to fail” or “should really fail”. I do not feel my knowledge of Dutch is sufficient to say they are wrong.
    3. This book “de Avonden” was published in 1947 but the first translation in English appeared in 2016. I do not know what the translator did here.

  66. In Russian it is Снип-снап-снурре from “Snow queen” written by Evgeny Schwartz as a retelling of the Andersen’s story. Whether Andersen used that expression as some magical phrase, I do not know.

  67. Whether Andersen used that expression

    He sure did:

    “Og snip-snap-snurre-basselurre!” sagde røverpigen,

    https://www.andersenstories.com/da/andersen_fortaellinger/snedronningen

  68. 3. This book “de Avonden” was published in 1947 but the first translation in English appeared in 2016. I do not know what the translator did here.

    Well, here is the same passage from that 2016 translation by Sam Garrett (The Evenings: A Winter’s Tale):

    Arriving at the front door he thought: “There is no single, valid reason why this evening should be a failure. I have a suspicion that it will succeed. An evening, the course of which is fixed beforehand, cannot possibly be a failure. The point is to imagine nothing more of it than can reasonably be expected, that’s all.”

  69. David Marjanović says

    Varieties and other “infrasubspecific taxa” have not been recognized in zoological nomenclature in decades.

  70. The archetypal Swedish fairytale ends with the nonsense-verse ‘snipp snapp snut – så var sagan slut’

    I thought, aha, that must the source of “Snip snap snout, this tale’s told out”, which appears occasionally in English; pretty sure I saw it at the end of a fairytale in childhood. But no; as best I can tell, its earliest appearance in English was in George William Dasent’s 1859 translation of Asbjørnsen and Moe’s fairytale collection, at the end of “The Three Billy-Goats Gruff”, where the Norwegian text has “Og snipp snapp snute, saa er det eventyret ute.”

    Wiktionary says slut was borrowed from Swedish into Danish, where it’s used in radio communications for “over and out”.

  71. George William Dasent

    I looked up this name, and found this:

    Recorded in several forms as shown below, this uncommon surname is of Old French origins. It is a patronymic form of the surname Saint, with a fused preposition “de” implying “of the Saint (family)”. […] The surname is thought to have been introduced into England by French Huguenot refugees during the late 17th and 18th Centuries. The usual French form of the surname is Dessaint, and in Britain it has been adopted in a variety of forms, including Dasent, Decent, Descent, Dessant, Desent and others.

    In this form, it’s pronounced /ˈdeɪsᵊnt/ (DAY-snt).

  72. That should be George Webbe Dasent. I miscopied.

  73. Interesting — according to his Wikipedia page, his translation of Njal’s Saga “established sustained interest in Icelandic literature.” (They don’t say where that Webbe came from, though.)

  74. PlasticPaddy says

    @tm
    Thanks. I have one other small point. For “geen enkele geldige reden”, the two machine translators have “no valid reason” and Sam Garrett has “no single, valid reason”. I would suggest “not one valid reason” or “not a single valid reason” but agree that “NO valid reason” would be equivalent (it is hard to put a fingerstab with optional raising of the voice in writing).

  75. OK, here’s a definite triumph of DeepL:

    Однако отнесение “елочной” и северокавказской керамики к катакомбной культуре заведомо дискуссионно.

    GT: However, the assignment of “Christmas tree” and North Caucasian ceramics to the catacomb culture is deliberately debatable.

    DL: However, attributing the “herringbone” and North Caucasian pottery to the Catacomb culture is certainly debatable.

    I’m particularly impressed with the correct “herringbone,” which a human translator could easily screw up.

  76. On the topic of the word herringbone: Last month, I was looking at pictures of some fossils with my sons, and I pointed out that the very old (Ediacaran period) fossil Spriggina, in spite of looking very much like an arthropod, was probably something quite different. Like a number of fossils from the Ediacaran (e.g. Dickinsonia, which I think displays the weird traits most clearly), the segmentation is not actually symmetric across the midline. Rather than having a bilateral reflection symmetry, these organisms have glide reflection symmetries with staggered* isomers. I described this to my sons as a “herringbone pattern,” which it is. However, it occurred to me that the specific feature of the pattern that I was pointing out was not actually a feature of literal herring bones (fish like herring being, of course, bilaterians).

    * For some reason, it took me a while to come up with the word staggered here, and I’m still not positive that there isn’t a better word that I overlooked.

  77. David Marjanović says

    Oh, it gets weirder still. Dickinsonia is symmetric on the lower side – it’s just the upper side that is staggered.

  78. ” is certainly debatable.” – So English does not have a word for “заведомо”:( Once in a while I want to use it, mostly for stylistical reasons. Something like before-knownly:

    “One sees that attributing this pottery to the Catacomb culture is going to be ‘debatable’ even before testing it”,
    where “testing” can be
    – considering it and coming to the conclusion on one’s own
    – proposing it and hearing the objections
    In other situations “even before an experiment”, as in “… losing tactics/strategy” in games.

  79. PlasticPaddy says

    @drasvi
    I am sure foreseeably exists, although it sounds “clunky” to me and too strong for many contexts, i.e. for me “It could have been foreseen (was foreseeable) that X would commit another crime if released” is OK but not “It could have been foreseen that X would arrive ten minutes late for the train”

  80. For заведомо my Oxford dictionary says: “wittingly; (+adj.) known to be; з. зная being fully aware; передать з. необоснованный слух to pass on a rumour known to be unfounded.”

  81. Wiktionary says:

    1. deliberately, intentionally, knowingly

    дава́ть заве́домо ло́жные показа́ния ― davátʹ zavédomo lóžnyje pokazánija ― to deliberately give false witness, to perjure oneself

    2. obviously

  82. Not exactly belonging on this thread, but still interesting:

    The race to find India’s hidden languages

    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211014-the-man-who-found-indias-hidden-languages

  83. David Marjanović says

    Fascinating, with very interesting links in it! I had no idea of the Tangsa script, for example.

  84. Trond Engen says

    Jen: Lillebjorn Nilsen’s Gategutt

    Rudolf Nilsen‘s poem Gategutt, made into a song and recorded by Lillebjørn Nilsen.

  85. Allan from Iowa says

    Epigrams may be even harder than poetry.

    My test case is “Ikh vel zayn batrayt,” which is the tagline on somebody’s Tumblr blog. I thought it might be Yiddish in a possibly nonstandard romanization.

    Google Translate: Russian, “They were led by Zayn Butright” (Where did they get “butright”, which on the web seems to occur mainly as an OCR error for “outright” or “but right”?)

    DeepL: Slovenian, “I am the son of a batrayt”

    Both of those are obviously wrong.

    Maybe it was a phonetic rendering of something whose standard German spelling would be more like “Ich wehl sein betreit.”

    Google Translate: Luxembourgish (at least we are in the High German family), “I choose to be cared for”

    DeepL: German, “I wehl his betreit”

    Maybe the original quote has a typo. Does anyone here know?

  86. January First-of-May says

    “They were led by Zayn Butright”

    Well, certainly, if we translate that back into (transliterated) Russian, we do in fact get what GT started with (modulo capitalization). I’m not sure why “Butright” as opposed to (e.g.) “Butrite” though – and for that matter why not “Zine”.

    (Google finds several real people surnamed Butrite, and a few more surnamed Butright. Maybe one of them was famous enough to make it into a Russian source.)

  87. David Marjanović says

    Maybe the original quote has a typo. Does anyone here know?

    As you guessed, try betrayt.

    For German, I’d go with ich will betreut werden, “I want to be cared for”.

  88. Allan from Iowa, are you sure it’s “Ikh vel zayn batrayt”, not “ikh vel zayn bafrayt”, I want to be freed, איך וויל זיין באפרייט

  89. Another triumph of DeepL:

    И для русской церкви это было важно, но Новый Завет сделана была попытка понимать чисто словесно и условно.

    GT: And for the Russian Church it was important, but the New Testament was an attempt to understand purely verbally and conventionally.

    DL: And for the Russian church this was important, but an attempt was made to understand the New Testament purely verbally and conventionally.

    Very impressive, since Новый Завет is not formally marked as accusative (so of course GT took it as a subject).

  90. January First-of-May says

    I’ve been trying to read Professor Riddle’s Chronicles in GT lately, so for comparison, a (somewhat long-ish, sorry) excerpt from the first chapter…

     
    Original:

    Здравствуйте, дети! Нет, я не поморщился, с чего вы взяли? Мне не приходилось бегать от алиментов, мистер Уизли. А вот вам, если я хоть что-то понимаю в пророчествах, от них сбежать не удастся. Звезды ясно говорят, что у вас будет не менее семи детей.
    Кто-нибудь, приведите Молли Прюэтт в чувство. При чем тут мадам Помфри? Вы что, не знаете водного заклинания? Акваменти! Не надо тут мне отнекиваться, что это программа шестого курса. Пффф! Господа Крэбб и Гойл, похоже, заклинание уже выучили. Пять баллов со Слизерина. И да – акваменти! Я, между прочим, знаю осушающее заклинание, а вы двое, похоже, нет.
    Переходим к теме урока. Да, я также известен как лорд Вольдеморт. Нет, мисс Блэк, в классе попрошу называть меня профессор Риддл. Мистер Уизли, я все слышал. К вашему сведению, мое общение с учениками не выходит за пределы класса. Пять баллов с Гриффиндора.

    GT:

    Hello children! No, I didn’t frown, where did you get the idea? I haven’t had to run from child support, Mr. Weasley. But for you, if I understand at least something in the prophecies, you will not be able to escape from them. The stars clearly say that you will have at least seven children.
    Someone bring Molly Pruette to her senses. What does Madam Pomfrey have to do with it? Don’t you know the water spell? Aquamenti! There is no need for me to deny that this is a sixth year program. Pfff! Messrs. Crabbe and Goyle seem to have learned the spell by now. Five points from Slytherin. And yes – aquaments! I know a drying spell, by the way, but you two don’t seem to be.
    Moving on to the topic of the lesson. Yes, I am also known as Lord Voldemort. No, Miss Black, I’m going to ask you to call me Professor Riddle in class. Mr. Weasley, I heard everything. For your information, my communication with students does not go outside the classroom. Five points from Gryffindor.

    DeepL:

    Hello, children! No, I didn’t wince, what makes you think that? I’ve never had to run away from alimony, Mr. Weasley. But you, if I know anything about prophecy, can’t run away from it. The stars are clear that you will have at least seven children.
    Somebody bring Molly Pruett to her senses. What’s Madame Pomfrey got to do with it? Don’t you know the water spell? Aquamenti! Don’t give me that sixth grade program. Pfft! Gentlemen Crabbe and Goyle seem to have learned the spell. Five points from Slytherin. And yes – aquamenti! I, by the way, know the draining spell, but you two don’t seem to.
    Moving on to the topic of the lesson. Yes, I am also known as Lord Voldemort. No, Miss Black, in class, I will ask you to call me Professor Riddle. Mr. Weasley, I heard that. For your information, my interactions with students do not extend beyond the classroom. Five points from Gryffindor.

     
    …Various points to both, often in the same sentences. Neither recognized the name “Molly Prewett”. The last paragraph was definitely in DeepL’s favor, though.

    Interesting result: “Не надо тут мне отнекиваться, что это программа шестого курса” actually means something like “Don’t you here retort [to me] that it’s sixth-year material”. Neither GT nor DeepL, it seems, had recognized the word отнекиваться “to refuse, retort”, though at least GT had produced something grammatically sensible.

  91. Yes, that is interesting; you could actually interpret “Don’t give me that” as “Don’t retort to me that it’s” if you were a defense lawyer for DL, but it’s probably just a failed attempt at analysis.

  92. January First-of-May says

    but it’s probably just a failed attempt at analysis

    Probably. Again, GT’s analysis makes sense, because the original Russian is grammatically ambiguous over who’s doing the retorting (it’s mostly the context, and/or pragmatics, that provides the interpretation I gave) – i.e. perhaps it did recognize the word but misunderstood what its subject was. Meanwhile DL’s version of the sentence is so compressed that it’s hard to tell what, if anything, was recognized at all.

  93. Well, translating ethical dative is not going to be easy, is it? I am not sure what a human translator would do with it. Let me try (not much of a translator, but human). Не надо тут мне отнекиваться, что это программа шестого курса. — Don’t try to talk out of it on me because it is the sixth grade level.

  94. January First-of-May says

    Here’s a later fragment from the same chapter, with internal thoughts instead of dialogue, so longer and more complicated sentences…

     
    Original:

    Темная магия всегда привлекала меня стройностью и оригинальностью ее теоретической части. Проследить за тонкой нитью изящных преобразований, описывающих механизм и действие заклятия, дано не каждому, но знающие люди получают от этого истинное наслаждение. Если, разумеется, воображение не рисует им чересчур живые картины того, что стоит за всеми этими милыми формулами. Особо впечатлительных от этого даже тошнит, и таких не берут в Пожиратели.
    На уроке на седьмом курсе я не мог отказать себе в удовольствии объяснить студентам, как на самом деле работает темная магия. Во время первой попытки я был просто счастлив: надо же, до чего хладнокровные и циничные дети мне попались. Просто душа моя на радостях развернулась и в ряд Тейлора на хоркруксы разложилась. На следующем занятии я пошел дальше и даже вывел характеристическую функцию Круциатуса. И только на третьем уроке я понял, что молчание моих ягнят объясняется отнюдь не их железными нервами, а их пустыми головами.

    GT:

    Dark magic has always attracted me with the harmony and originality of its theoretical part. It is not given to everyone to follow the thin thread of graceful transformations describing the mechanism and operation of the spell, but knowledgeable people get real pleasure from this. Unless, of course, the imagination paints them too vivid pictures of what is behind all these cute formulas. Especially impressionable from this even sick, and such are not taken into the Death Eaters.
    In my seventh year class, I couldn’t deny myself the pleasure of explaining to students how dark magic actually works. During the first attempt, I was just happy: wow, how cold-blooded and cynical children I came across. It’s just that my soul turned around for joy and disintegrated into Taylor’s row into Horcruxes. In the next lesson, I went further and even deduced the characteristic function of the Cruciatus. And only in the third lesson I realized that the silence of my lambs is not explained by their iron nerves, but by their empty heads.

    DL:

    Dark magic has always attracted me by the slenderness and originality of its theoretical part. Not everyone can follow the delicate thread of elegant transformations that describe the mechanism and action of a spell, but knowledgeable people really enjoy it. Unless, of course, their imagination draws them too vivid pictures of what’s behind all those cute formulas. The particularly impressionable are even sickened by it, and they don’t get hired as Reavers.
    In my seventh year class, I couldn’t deny myself the pleasure of explaining to students how dark magic really works. The first time I tried it, I was happy to see how cold-blooded and cynical the kids were. My soul was just happy to unfold into a row of Taylor’s Horcruxes. In the next class I went further and even deduced the characteristic function of Cruciatus. It was only at the third lesson that I realized that the silence of my lambs was not due to their iron nerves, but to their empty heads.

     
    GT recognized “Death Eaters”, though seemingly mostly by accident. Neither recognized “Taylor series”, but GT made less of a mess out of the result. DL’s “slenderness” is a miss. Overall, though, slight advantage to DL.

  95. Пффф – Pfff – Pfft

    wifty drifty!

    drifty was not very transparent reference to ktschwarz It’s sound-symbolic enough that I could almost guess what it meant (never having heard it before), especially in context: similar to wift, whiff, waft, drift, woozy. in Wifty

  96. DL:

    Wifty – это синоним слова “ditzy”. И, как и слово “ditzy”, его происхождение остается неизвестным. Самое раннее известное печатное появление слова “wifty” – это цитата, появившаяся в газете Delaware County Daily Times (Честер, Пенсильвания) в 1972 году, хотя в разговорном английском это слово, безусловно, использовалось и до этого. Слово “Ditzy”, похоже, почти такое же старое, как “wifty” – мы можем отследить его по крайней мере до 1974 года. Но “dizzy”, которое в своем древнеанглийском происхождении означало “глупый” или “тупой”, использовалось в значении, похожем на “ditzy” или “wifty”, с 16 века.

    GT:

    Wifty – это синоним слова «тупица». И, как и «головокружительный», его происхождение остается неизвестным. Самое раннее известное печатное слово «wifty» встречается в цитате, появившейся в Delaware County Daily Times (Честер, Пенсильвания) в 1972 году, хотя это слово определенно использовалось в разговорной речи до этого. «Ditzy» кажется почти таким же старым, как и «wifty» – мы можем проследить его происхождение, по крайней мере, с 1974 года. смысл, похожий на «дитзи» или «женатый» с 16 века.

  97. DL certainly seems better there.

  98. Yes. When I feed “But “dizzy,” which in its Old English origins meant “foolish” or “stupid,” has been used in a sense similar to “ditzy” or “wifty” since the 16th century. ” to GT:

    Но слово «головокружение», которое в его древнеанглийском происхождении означало «глупый» или «глупый», использовалось в смысле, аналогичном «тупому» или «тупому» с 16 века.

  99. That is: DeepL can translate dictionaries. The original is the dictionary entry from ktschwarz’s post:

    Wifty is a synonym of “ditzy.” And, like “ditzy,” its origins remain unknown. The earliest known print appearance of “wifty” is in a quotation that appeared in the Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania) in 1972, though the word was certainly being used in spoken English before that. “Ditzy” appears to be almost as old as “wifty”—we are able to trace it back to at least 1974. But “dizzy,” which in its Old English origins meant “foolish” or “stupid,” has been used in a sense similar to “ditzy” or “wifty” since the 16th century.

    He translates “ditzy” and “wifty” as ‘a word “ditzy“‘ and ‘a word “wifty“‘, which is in some cases necessary in Russian.
    He (well, it is “it”, but I am tired) translates ‘meant “foolish” or “stupid,” ‘ as ‘meant “foolish” or “stupid,”’, and in this case he translates the words in quotemarks.

  100. Allan from Iowa says

    D.O., thanks for the correction.

    Google Translate still makes a mess of it, but DeepL doesn’t pretend to know what it means.

  101. Yiddish is not one of the languages DeepL covers.

  102. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    A few years ago someone (maybe in this very group, I don’t remember) commented that Google Translate did a remarkably good job with Hausa. I checked, and they were right: all the samples of Hausa I found on the BBC’s Hausa site came out as perfectly intelligible and almost idiomatic English. At that time Google Translate did a remarkably bad job with French and Spanish. However, that was a few years ago and it’s become a lot better with French and Spanish.

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