I’ve spent most of the weekend on proofreading, and an awkward exercise it was. A lot of changing a to the and the to a, of course, and rearranging sentences so the subject comes first, which is standard. I was told before I started to leave all the abbreviations alone, that they like their abbreviations, and for the most part I respected that, and I continued to as long as they were the acronymic kind that bureaucrats are so inexplicably fond of.
But, they were abbreviating number as nu, and million as mio, and for some reason about half the time they would abbreviate animation as anim. and then in the next sentence they would spell it out, so I changed all those so it was more normal.
There was one point where they had the word teather and I figured it was a simple typo and changed it to teacher, and then my wife pointed out that it was a slightly more complex typo and the intended word had been theater.
And we laugh at Google when it screws things up. I’m not really sure I’m that much better. In fact, if I was doing the translations instead of just the proofreading (my wife has already done the translation), I’m sure I couldn’t do as well as Google, in any language – and Google can do it in every language. Sure, they make some comical mistakes, and they are funny. They are like a child’s humorous malapropisms, based in simple and innocent misunderstanding. The child eventually learns, and adopts all the preconceptions of their elders and society at large. The computers will do the same, except that once the computers get to an adult level, they will keep on going.
Someday, computers will not only be able to translate our words, they will be able to interpret them, psychoanalyze them, parody them, weave them into brilliant poems and songs and novels and screenplays, collate them with others words by other people on related and tangential subjects, and get far more mileage out of them than we ever did ourselves.
Keep your words sweet. Soon we will have to eat them.