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5.29.2012

Testing machine translation tools: Spanish - English

Here are our comments on a Spanish text which has come to our notice and which offers many interesting aspects, some of which are linguistic.

Camaradas!
Comrades!
Bienvenidos a esta MARCHA POR LA UNIDAD DE ESPAÑA convocada por multitud de organizaciones patrióticas para combatir a los independentistas vascos y catalanes bajo el grito: CONTRA EL SEPARATISMO, UNA BANDERA.
Welcome to the MARCH FOR THE UNIT1 OF SPAIN called by many patriotic organizations to fight the Basque and Catalan separatists in the cry: AGAINST SEPARATISM, A FLAG.
La unidad de todos los españoles bajo nuestra Enseña Nacional será la mejor respuesta frente al aquelarre separatista que esta noche se prepara. Es deber sagrado de la juventud española acabar con los enemigos de la Patria, que atacan al Estado e impiden el resurgir de la Nación Española. Nuestra generación debe terminar la ardua tarea que nuestros antepasados empezaron. ¡A por ellos!
The unit of2 the Spanish under our National Show3 will be the best response to separatist coven4 prepares tonight. It is the sacred duty of the Spanish youth destroy5 the enemies of the country6, attacking the state and prevent the resurgence of the Spanish Nation. Our generation must end the hard work that our ancestors began. Get them!
Recordemos con orgullo las palabras del general José Millán Astray, fundador de la gloriosa Legión: “¡Cataluña y el País Vasco, el País Vasco y Cataluña, son dos cánceres en el cuerpo de la Nación! El fascismo, remedio de España, viene a exterminarlos, cortando en la carne viva y sana como un fino bisturí.”
We recall with pride the words of General José Millán Astray7, founder of the glorious Legion: "Catalonia and the Basque Country, Catalonia and the Basque Country  are two cancers in the body of the Nation8! Fascism, choice of Spain, is to exterminate them, cutting into the flesh alive and well as a fine scalpel."
Pero si hay algo más perverso que el nacionalismo vasco es el catalán, padre de todos los separatismos que amenazan sin vergüenza la indisoluble unidad de la Patria. El mismo Sabino Arana se volvió nacionalista después de un viaje a Barcelona. Así pues, hay que dar un severo escarmiento a todos los etarras y polacos que hoy vienen a ultrajar a España, su Himno y su Bandera.
But if there is anything more perverse than Basque nationalism is Catalan9, the father of all who threaten separatism10 without shame the indissoluble unity of the country. The same nationalist Sabino Arana returned after a trip to Barcelona. So, give a stern warning to all ETA and Poles11 now come to an offence12 against Spain, its anthem and its flag.
Durante la marcha cantaremos esta estrofa que el invicto Ejército Español entonó cuando la sacrosanta Cruzada Nacional redimía, por la nobleza de las armas, las rebeldes comarcas catalanas. La melodía es la misma del himno CARA AL SOL:
During the march we sing this stanza that the unbeaten13 Spanish Army sang when the sacrosanct Crusade14 redeemed, by the nobility of arms, the rebels15 Catalan regions. The melody of the hymn is the same FACE THE SUN16:
Catalán, que injuriaste la bandera
Que yo he jurado defender:
Morirás como una fiera
Por traidor a mi fe.
Catalan, the flag injuriaste
I have sworn to uphold:
You will die like a beast
A traitor to my faith.
Catalán, judío y renegado:
Pagarás los daños que has causado.
¡Arriba, escuadras, a vencer,
Que en España empieza a amanecer!
Catalan, and renegade Jew17:
You will pay the damage you've caused.
Onwards, squadrons, to victory,
In Spain begins to dawn!
¡Arriba España!       ¡Viva la Patria!
Spain!18        Viva la Patria!
¡Abajo Cataluña!  ¡Muera el separatismo!
Catalonia Down!19 Death to separatism!
Madrid, capital de España, 25 de mayo de 2012
Madrid, capital of Spain, May 25, 201220


Translator’s notes:

1 In this case, of course, “unidad” should be translated as “unity”, not “unit”.
2 See note 1, above.
3 In this context, Enseña Nacional means “National flag”.
 A coven is "a group or gathering of witches whoi meet regularly". Whether this is an apt expression to refer to a football match (see note 20) is open to doubt. However, this is not a criticism of the machine translator.
5 “It is the sacred duty of the Spanish youth destroy the enemies of the country…” leaves out the word “to”. They have “to destroy” the enemies: in this context, the Catalans and the Basques.
6 "La Patria" should really be translated as the "Fatherland", as is commonly found in all Fascist (including Nazi) texts.
7 General José Millán Astray, I’m sure students remember from their “Modern Spanish History” classes, is perhaps best remembered for a heated argument with Miguel de Unamuno, the Basque writer and philosopher, on October 12, 1936 in Salamanca. The celebration of the Day of the [Spanish] Race. Millán was reported as saying "Death to intelligence! Long live death!", and Unamuno replied: "You will win, but you will not convince".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Mill%C3%A1n_Astray
8 According to historians it was not General Millán Astray who uttered these solemn words, but an academic, Professor Francisco Maldonado, who after decrying Catalonia and the Basque Country as "cancers on the body of the nation," added that "Fascism, the healer of Spain, will know how to exterminate them, cutting into the live flesh, like a determined surgeon free from false sentimentalism." Take note that the cancers are NOT Catalan and Basque separatists, but rather the entire population of both countries. In this case, the machine translator is admirably accurate in its rendering.
9 The text should be translated not as “But if there is anything more perverse than Basque nationalism is Catalan” but rather as “But if there is anything more perverse than Basque nationalism it is Catalan nationalism”.
10 Again, the machine translation is overwhelmed by the harshness of the text. Instead of “the father of all who threaten separatism”, it should read the father of all separatisms that threaten…”
11 The reference to “ETA and Poles” is disconcerting. Should a machine translator be aware of such colloquialismsm, derived from racist attitudes vis-à-vis Basques and Catalans? “etarres” means literally “members of ETA” though in this context it probably refers in general to all Basques, of whatever political persuasion. Again, who is to know that “polaco” is a disparaging word for Catalans (since when has being a Pole been looked down upon)?
12 “Ultrajar” here is an infinitive verb, not a noun. So “an offence” is not a correct translation.
13 This is poetic licence, of course. The authors choose to forget, for instance, the Battle of Annual, in the Rif region of Northern Morocco, a disastrous military defeat suffered by the Spanish army on July 22, 1921 at the hands of tribal leader Abd el Krim, after which over twenty Spanish garrisons were overrun and their soldiers massacred.
14 Again, the machine translation omits a word. Franco’s was a “National” Crusade, not just a regular one. This needs to be corrected.
15 “the rebels Catalan regions” is not correct, on linguistic and historical grounds. Linguistically it should read the rebel Catalan regions”, and on historical grounds it should be borne in mind that it was the Army and the Fascists (the “Phalangists”) attempted to overthrow the legitimate democratically elected government of the II Republic. However, one can’t expect a machine translating tool, of course, to be aware of this.
16 “FACE THE SUN” is a mistaken translation of the top-of-the-pops hymn of the Spanish fascists, “Cara al Sol”, that is, “Facing the Sun”. Written in 1935, its enduring popularity is witnessed by the fact that it is still sung today, well into the 21st century, by fascists.
17 Another example of the limited translating powers of the tool. Catalans have been widely described, at least since the time of the Spanish Civil War, as Jews and as renegades, not as renegade Jews.
18 A poor translation. “Up with” Spain, or “Long live” Spain would be better.
19 Again, a poor translation. “Catalonia Down!” should be “Down with Catalonia”. Students are reminded, however, that Catalonia is in Spain, so the authors of the text are in effect shooting themselves in the foot… or else inviting Catalonia to leave Spain, where it might well feel more comfortable than it does nowadays. 
20 The translation of the date is quite correct. Students may be surprised to discover that it doesn't date back at least half a century. Those doubting this can see a picture of the original document, distributed in Madrid on the occasion of a demonstration authorised by the Madrid High Court, just four hours before FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao met to play for the Spanish Cup Final in a Madrid football stadium.  No-one was arrested, though whistles were confiscated and some people - the number is still unclear - were allegedly beaten up by the police for waving flags. Barcelona football supporters are still sending these reports into the media. 




Llegiu el meu darrer article (segona i darrera) a www.tribuna.cat, "Fem el futut plegats?" Millor que no, (5 de juny de 2012) aquí: 

http://www.tribuna.cat/opinio/economia/fem-el-futut-plegats-millor-que-no-i-2-05-06-2012.html


Llegiu el meu article (primera part), "Fem el futut plegats?" Millor que no, (29 de maig de 2012) aquí: http://www.tribuna.cat/opinio//fem-el-futut-plegats-millor-que-no-1-29-05-2012.html


I ve a tomb: un programa que promet ser genial d'"En Singular" (Canal 33, dimarts 29 de maig a les 22,40h): Germà Bel. "Volem AVE. Coseremos Espanya con hilos de acero."
http://blogs.tv3.cat/ensingular.php?itemid=46290
Article de Jaumne Barberà per posar els pèls (més) en punta!


... i, ja que hi som, algunes col·laboracions meves anteriors:

5.01.2012

#novullpagar: Algorithms or censorship?

Today thousands of Catalan car drivers drove up to the toll gates and said "No vull pagar": I don't want to pay. Under the watchful eyes of the police (who didn't have to intervene) motorway employees had to get out of their cabins to take note of the number plate before letting the driver through. 


The #novullpagar initiative was the brainchild of Josep Casadellà (@jcasadella57). After reading Josep's tweet (in which he explained that he refused to pay tolls on Catalan roads any more), @jordiTorresb started up the Plataforma No Vull Pagar. Thanks to twitter, @a2bcat volunteered to design a website, www.novullpagar.cat. A Facebook page soon followed.

The whole campaign - initially for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of volunteers to arrive at toll gates in 14 different places, at midday on May 1st 2012 - is base on the uncontestable fact that Catalonia, one of the wealthiest parts of Spain, is being leeched of its wealth and welfare, but gross, prolonged over taxation and under investment by the Spanish government in Catalonia. Roads for which Catalans have to pay a toll (often when there is no equivalent, quality freeway covering the same route), are freeways in most of the rest of Spain. The main motorways in Catalonia were built 40 years ago, and have been fully amortised several times over. 



So leading up to the midday happening today, the #novullpagar hashtag bombarded the local twitter world. www.toowit.com listed the "Top hashtags in all countries for the last 6 hours", putting #novullpagar in 7th place in the world at its peak!





Cars queued in over a dozen places, including toll gates in the Valencian region and Majorca. The motorway ownser, Abertis, said that up to 2 pm 2500 drivers had refused to pay.





Yet the campaign 
made no impact on the TT lists of Spain or even Barcelona. At the last minute, in an desperate attempt to attain TT status, #novullpagar1M was launched, but likewise did not appear as a trending topic in Barcelona (far less in Spain) at any time, despite a rate of up to ten tweets a minute, around midday (which was when the coordinated popular initiative hit the tolls right across Catalonia, and in other parts of the "Països Catalans").

Compare the sources in the evening (9 pm local time): Twitter Inc. gave this listing:



At the same time twit.cat, which calculates its statistics on the basis of 22,577 signed-in Catalan twitter-users, had #novullpagar in front, with #novullpagar1M in 4th place and #novullpagaraEspanya in 5th place.




Strangely enough, at this time the 
www.toowit.com website could not be accessed: it gave the following message: "Error: Server Error. The server encountered an error and could not complete your request. If the problem persists, please report your problem and mention this error message and the query that caused it."


At the same time, Trendmap shows the hashtag alive and kicking,  ahead of others in the regions. Here is data for the Barcelona district:




Questions are being asked by many Catalans, as to why neither #novullpagar nor #novullpagar1M reached TT status, when far more tweets included these hashtags than other expressions that are among the trending topics ( such as "Girona Nord", one of the most "popular" toll gates for the No Vull Pagar action today ). Can algorithms have such perverse effects, or is it a case of censorship? Let us hope time will tell.


This is just one more campaign organised in the build-up towards a referendum for Catalan independence, for which over 40% of the population say they would vote for (versus little more than 20% who say they would vote against it). The combination of solid economic reasons and strong sentimental support for freedom are making a growing impact on public opinion.




Other posts in English: 
Baròmetre de l'ús del català a Internet