Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't (mis)match Deutsch and Dutch!

Drop the two letters e and s from the German word Deutsch and you get Dutch. This is what a Danish student of German did—according to his teacher—while he tried to short-cut his homework assignment (see Däne verwechselte Deutsch und Dutch). The Danish German teacher Frank Lacay at the private Ådalen school of Ishøj near Copenhagen, Danemark, proved that his pupil, who thought he had translated some Danish text into German (as he was supposed to do by means of his acquired German language skills), in fact translated the given text into Dutch language by using an on-line translation tool on the Internet. By checking on-line translation services himself, the teacher found it obvious that the schoolboy used such a service and clicked Dutch instead of Deutsch: the text of the delivered “homework” translation and the Dutch-triggered machine output were identical.

The best machine is counterproductive when you press the wrong button. But even if you stay button-accurate, I doubt that there is a reliable “best translation” machine—at least not for text embedded in context. Anyway, it is always fun to try, as long as you press the relevant keys and think ahead of the machine …

And this is for the schoolboys:
Deutsch is the German word for the English word German,
Holländisch is the German word for the English word Dutch,
Niederländisch is a German-language synonym for Holländisch,
Dänisch is the German word for the English word Danish.

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