Saturday, March 26, 2011

German wine, turpentine, Gertrude Stein

First thing: I want to point out the new shiny on the sidebar. My first official sponsored ad!

Now, granted, it's a lousy deal, all things considered--if someone clicks through, and if they watch the video, and if they end up pre-ordering the game--in the UK--then I get 22 cents on the transaction.

Yeah. Not kidding.

But I'm just thrilled to have it on the page. Look! Portal 2! It's coming out! (Yes, I am excited about it, even though I, erm, haven't finished the first game yet...What? I'm slow with physics puzzles! I have no time! Grr!)

And I figure I will toss my obligatory seasonal shout-out to the Amazon link. I have stuph. Stuph you might be interested in. And if you buy through that, I get yet another negligible sum, which Amazon won't pay me unless it gets pretty high. (Not kidding about that, either. I got a grand total of $4.63 from holiday shopping. That sum's been erased from my Associates account, because if it's not up to $10, they don't even bother sending out a gift card.)

So why am I bothering? Okay, first, the Portal 2 ad is cool. It gets in on cool points alone. Hells, if the advert rep had written me asking to put it up for nothing, I admit, I might have done that.

Second, I keep the Amazon link around because it's become a secondary wishlist--I can point folks who might want to buy things for me to the blog, and they can ponder the oddity of some of my choices, but they get a pretty good idea of likes and dislike, and, moreover, things I don't have. I'm not huge on having things, but I'm not averse to them either.

Anyway. Enough of that. Next up, Google Translate doesn't go far enough.

This is not news to anyone, least of all me. But I almost wish I hadn't used their new service to view alternate translations.

This is what I was planning to send to a client who's behind on his tier:
[M],

Du hast auf Sendung #[his parcel] abgelaufen. Wenn Sie immer noch interessiert an der Anmietung von uns bist, dann schreiben Sie von der Tier-Station, die hier zu finden:

[landmark to his sim's tier station]

und zahlen mindestens eine Woche von Tier (auch wenn man mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie möchten). Und vielen Dank für die Wahl Solace Beach!

sanfte Brise,

Emilly Orr
Trost Strand Gutsverwalter
Which was supposedly a word-for-word translation of this:
[M],

You've expired on parcel #[his parcel]. If you're still interested in renting from us, please drop by the tier station, which is located here:

[landmark to his sim's tier station]

and pay at least one week of tier (though you can pay more if you like). And thanks for choosing Solace Beach!

Fair winds,

Emilly Orr
Solace Beach Estate Manager
Then I started breaking it down. First off, this passage:
Wenn Sie immer noch interessiert an der Anmietung von uns bist, dann schreiben Sie von der Tier-Station, die hier zu finden:
on a retranslation, actually says this:
If you're still interested in hiring us, please write about the animal station, which can be found here:
Huh? Hiring us? Animal station? But it doesn't stop there. The next bit of text is even more confusing. This:
and pay at least one week of tier (though you can pay more if you like). And thanks for choosing Solace Beach!
becomes this:
and pay at least a week of animal (even if you pay more if you want). And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
So my first question is...what animal is a "tier", exactly? Come to find out, "tier" is a very general German word. It simply means that--animal. Any animal. All animals.

Okay, so that passage has to go. What about:
You have run out of time on your lot. If you are still interested in renting from us, please drop by your rental box, which you can find here:
When translated (and translated back) that becomes:
You have run the time on your lot. If you are still interested in hiring us, please write about your rental box, which can be found here:
Still not crazy about the 'hiring us' part. Okay, what about:
You have no more time on your lot. If you are still interested in staying with us, please drop by your rental box, which you can find here:
That becomes:
Sie haben keine Zeit mehr auf Ihrem Grundstück. Wenn Sie noch Interesse an einem Aufenthalt bei uns sind, dann schreiben Sie von Ihrem Charme Box, die Sie hier finden können:
which in turn becomes:
You have no time to more your property. If you are interested in staying with us yet, then post your charm box that you can find here:
*facepalms*

When did it become "charm box"? Okay, try three:
You have no time on your lot. If you are still interested in staying with us, please drop by your payment place, which you can find here:
Which becomes
Do not have time on your property. If you are interested in staying with us yet, just look at your payment place that you can find here:
Okay! Better!

Stilted as hell, but better! I think we can move to the next passage.

So let's try this:
und zahlen mindestens eine Woche mieten (wenn man mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie möchten). Und ich danke Ihnen für die Wahl Solace Beach!
which becomes:
and pay at least a week rent (if you pay more if you want). And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Cumbersome. Okay, how about:
and pay at least one week of rent. One week will do, but you can always pay advance rent if you want to do that And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
That gives us this:
and pay rent at least a week. A week will do, but you can always pay advance rent, if you do want to thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Oh, the hell, that's nearly word salad.

Think think think. How about:
and pay at least one week of rent. Pay more if you want. And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
That becomes:
und zahlen mindestens eine Woche mieten. Mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie wollen. Und ich danke Ihnen für die Wahl Solace Beach!
which in turn becomes:
and pay rent at least a week. Pay more if you want. And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Okay. That's terse, but okay.

Somehow "Fair winds", which is my typical sign-off, becomes closer to "gentle breeze", which isn't per se bad, just...odd. But I can live with it. At least until I come up with a new sign-off. And "Solace Beach" becomes "Trost Strand", which is something to do with land and consolation, which...isn't actually that far off.

But dear gods, if this was what I was sending German people, the Russian people must have been really, really flummoxed! To say nothing of the Portuguese, the Turkish, the Spanish, the French, the Japanese...I mean, we are an international grid, and if I don't know the language personally (I only know a few words in a smattering of languages, I am woefully undereducated where language is concerned), I have to turn to machine translation. We all do.

But I think I'm going to start taking more time on each card. Because the eyes on the other end deserve to not bug out in grand confusion. Though at least the giggle factor is high...

6 comments:

Astolat Dufaux said...

I think you did well with your German. German in itself is a terse language. ;)

Emilly Orr said...

It is, and unfortunately, my only non-Google recourse is the lady who lives with me, who speaks German "kinda" by virtue of German grandparents. She helps...ish. :)

samanthapoindexter said...

I've been using the "translate the translation back into English" approach for some time to check that what I write ends up in the right ballpark. It can sometimes take a few tries. (Using simple sentences helps, too.)

Emilly Orr said...

I'm learning that. And no contractions. Contractions are the death of accurate translations.

I've also learned I should use different words, or different spellings--in most languages, f'rinstance, "Solace Beach" is translated--if that's the right term--into "Solace Beach". But if I write "solace beach" without the capital letters, then I get something that takes the two words as a sentence fragment, and translates them...more or less accurately.

Emilly Orr said...

Actually, I felt this deserving of another entry, so I've left my reply there. Thanks!

Emilly Orr said...

For anyone who thinks that may have been an odd skip there, I'm responding to someone who's since asked that their comments to the four entries that now comprise the Insect Thread be deleted.