|Click the tweet shot to decode his babble|
I responded to the incessant, poisonous spew of Luigi Muzii (@ilbarbaro) on Twitter last night, because the little puffed toad obnoxiously insists on croaking nonsense in debates (mostly with himself) which the dim bulb of his mind can never illuminate, and he does so in a tortured, incomprehensible and of course incorrect English which leaves readers I know unimpressed and utterly baffled, which has made him a frequent poster child for nonsense examples at conference presentations and which has convinced some that the man knows no English at all and merely machine translates his disordered thoughts from Italian.
Communication is seldom about the correctness of language or the degree of its mastery. Certainly it can be useful for some of us to command the subtleties of grammar, and I'm one of the guilty who enjoy that fine edge to carve patterns which will sometimes be appreciated by almost none. But sometimes the most eloquent expression can be in the most broken speech, supplemented by tone and gesture and scribbles on paper, signs in the air. And the howls of a dog. I realized this last night as I sat at a table with my Portuguese tutor and one of her many nephews, telling and understanding jokes and completely at ease in their language and culture in our negotiated register, where two weeks before I could do little more than say my dog doesn't bite, order 200 or 300 grams of anything at a butcher's counter (pointing at the item) or perhaps get half a dozen eggs, coffee and some pastry. I remember the eloquence of a Greek mechanic who shared tea with me on the floor of his shop years ago and told wonderful, funny stories I understood and laughed at though I knew about five words of his language.
The desire to communicate and to understand in ordinary situations of interaction is often a more effective facilitator than technical skill. Sometimes a friend and/or colleague will call my attention with some outrage to a web page or a message with "horrible" errors and I look and see none, only fluid expressions of thought and meaning or at least a fit-for-purpose text. A computer program has no motivation, no matter how great the motivation of its creator. It can have adaptive, event-based routines, but these are seldom adaptive in the way we know for the least of human minds. The messaging of machine pseudo-translation profiteers and their snake oil sidekicks pushing a fix of crowdsourcing, rightsourcing and workflow is quite adaptive to hide the static concepts and rotten nature of the repackaged Gammelfleisch they sell in pretty packages to hungry cost-cutters.
The MpT talking heads, Friend Muzii among them, have turned up the volume of their megaphone marketing lately, offering HAMPsTr'd hope to translation buyers that the lapis philosophorum sold by language carnival barkers can transform merda to gold with just the right six- or seven-figure engineering investment and straightjacketed expression we call controlled language. They babble and bark of so-called professionals who are "scared" but it is those unprofessional and MpT charlatans who are running scared at the thought that, like with the naked emperor in the story, their glorious equipment will be revealed to all and found to be of more limited use and interest than most might imagine.
I use machine pseudo-translation (MpT) every day, effectively, to aid in many critical tasks, and I see great value for it in its proper place. But what is that? Certainly not what the greedy HAMPsTr'izers say it is as they seek fresh mental sacrifices for their unholy altar. I believe there are a number of excellent, honest and profitable applications for MpT processes, and I know some translation agency principals and others who profit clearly and honestly from them, and I can find few points of disagreement with these people. But they are also not the more prominent Jungle Book characters on the international scene singing sweetly "Trust in me...."
Come to the IAPTI conference in Athens this September and hear my confession of how MpT technology has worked for me. Or better yet, go to Athens, skip the conference, get drunk on ouzo and tell the natives how much better their lives will be thanks to the transformative powers of MpT.
Please note: no underage girls were anesthetized and abused in the making of this blog post about the technologies and advocates of the bulk market bog (BMB)!