As The Crow Flies

A long time ago, when I saw articles saying that the Maori language was the latest fashion in computer translation, I decided to try it out. It went mostly OK for a while until I asked for a translation of “Owl”. The first time “owl” translated to “kohuru”. Then I asked to translate “kohuru” back into English. It said “kohuru” meant “murder.” So I thought that since owls do kill mice and other creatures that it was some kind of metaphor. But I found other sources that said it was just wrong… Anyway, I decided to see if they finally fixed it. Now it’s milder but still weird. I’ve listed it this way:
1. English
2. purported Maori translation
3. The given Maori translated back to English

The owl can fly.
Ka rere te owi.
The race runs.
Ka oma te whakataetae.
The competition runs.

My owl has feathers.
He huruhuru taku hae.
My jealousy is hairy.
huruhuru — feathers
taku — my
hae — flag, jealous, envy
he — it is, mistake, wrong.
ruru — due, handshake, owl
An owl is a bird.
Ko te otereti he manu.
The ostrich is a bird.

The ostrich ate the owl.
Ko te ostrich i kai i te ruru.
The ostrich ate the shake.

It looks like it’s taking language samples and looking for patterns in what is discussed and what things are associated near each other. But there’s no logic or reasoning here. It seems to be death by association. Somewhere in the process, it might make sense to hire a few humans who are experts in a particular language. They seem to be using the most popular associations and correlations. It’s like the classic ice cream study. More ice cream is sold in the summer when more people are outside and are hot. There is also a higher crime rate. So one study concluded that ice cream increases the crime rate. So I suppose that this method would find that the word “ice cream” means “murder.”

One thought on “As The Crow Flies

  1. People who like owls love to eat ice cream.
    Ko nga tangata e hiahia ana ki te aukati e pai ana ki te kai i te kirikiri.
    People who want to stop enjoying eating the gravel.

    Does a comma help?
    People who like owls, love to eat ice cream.
    Ko nga tangata e ahuareka ana ki nga otereti, e pai ana ki te kai i te kirikiri.
    People who love the ostriches, who love to eat the sand.

    People love to eat cream that is cold.
    E aroha ana te tangata ki te kai i te kirimati he makariri.
    People love eating the cream is cold.

    People love cream.
    E aroha ana te tangata ki te kiripuaki
    People love the expression


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