Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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July 1999


Translating services on the internet aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Translation services on the Internet — does this mean now you can read that letter from your French ami or fill out government forms in perfect German? Not exactly. While two major translation sites offer a wide variety of languages, from Icelandic to Welsh, the results may be more hilarious than useful. For instance, at com/cgi-bin/translate? (sponsored by search engine Alta Vista, which uses the free service to cyber-hawk its Systran software) typing in the phrase “Wollen wir heute Abend braten oder grillen?” (do we want to roast or grill tonight?) yields the English translation: “Do we want to roast this evening, or crickets?” In some cases, the word “nose” will be translated into German as being a Werkzeugspritze (tool spray?). While most babelfish translations are reasonably accurate, the same can not be said for the site at Using the service to inform your German mother-in-law of your wish to catch a movie will result in you telling her: “Two of us wools go in the cinema.” Asking a motor vehicle employee “Soll ich Teil drei vom Formular ausfüllen? (Should I fill out part three of the form?) will prompt puzzlement. According to the InterTran site, this question translates to: “Debit side self portion three form fill up?” It would seem that taking foreign language lessons is the least humiliating of the options, or as babelfish put it, “ It seems as if the best possibility more waer one languagetrains over to be disgraced.”

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