Monthly Archives: September 2011

If you can’t even get your Japanese right how are you expected to get your English correct

My kids watch this show on NHK called Cooking Idol Ai My Mine. Great show about a girl who is a real live cooking show host. Shows like these truly give kids imagination and creativity.

But I was really disappointed in the looseness of their script writing in this dialogue shown the other day:

Child: “Are there truly angels in the world, Mine?”
Mine: “Yes, there are … Probably.”

So which is it, Mine – yes or maybe?

Were they (the script writers) afraid to take sides on this issue? Afterall, Japan is not a Christian nation (there is no concept of angel in Buddhism). Japanese Children are indecisive like this. Perhaps the writers were only a mirror for society. Or are they wearing rose tinted glasses?

Either way it is troubling.

This is one instant I can think of right now but there are many others I have come across over the years.

Understanding translation through corpus

Do we really need to know grammar to understand language? What if we can have billions and billions of words of data to work with and put it through a computer?

Well, that is pretty much what corpus linguistics is.

Here is a nice article about how Google Translate works. It may not be full proof but it is better than anything else we have. A human being will have heard an uncountable number of words in his or her lifetime and we use that input to understand what others are trying to say. So why not a computer with lots of etext in it?

That is I guess the attraction I have to corpus linguistics.