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56 votes
Accepted

Why don't you get back the original text when you use translation software to translate something into another language and then back into English?

There is no one-to-one correspondence between languages and their vocabularies. This means it is impossible for a computer translator to be invertible. The translator's task going from language A to ...
gaeguri's user avatar
  • 1,485
47 votes

Is J. R. R. Tolkien's "translation" scheme found in real life?

Yes, a good example of such a book is Il nome della rosa (“The Name of the Rose”), 1980, written by Umberto Eco and then translated into Russian in 1988 by Elena Kostioukovitch. The translation is ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
20 votes

Is there a list of word meanings that are universally represented in all languages?

The Natural Semantic Metalanguage is a project that aims to identify the universal building blocks of human language, or "semantic primes". After four decades of empirical research they have ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,218
17 votes
Accepted

Is there a list of word meanings that are universally represented in all languages?

No, there may not be any universal meanings. Here is an example. In most (maybe all) Bantu languages, there is no word for "hand" and no word for "arm", because there is a word ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
13 votes

Excepting Romanian, is "Wales" ever translated/transliterated in modern languages with the same term as that meaning "Gaul" or "Gauls"?

This may sound weird, but it's not. Well, in fact, it is very weird indeed. –– With equal right one might say that Romania should correctly be called Wales. –– If that joke is lost on you, read the ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Is there any formally recognised concept of a “standard” translation?

Language is a form of communication made up of many tools: e.g., phonetics, lexis, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. To be efficient, the number of tools must be limited, e.g., no ...
Vegawatcher's user avatar
11 votes

Is J. R. R. Tolkien's "translation" scheme found in real life?

This is actually done fairly frequently in RPG video games. The most recent example that comes to mind is Genshin Impact. The source language is Chinese, but the setting of the game is loosely based ...
lavender_oni's user avatar
10 votes

Where this notation comes from and what it means

Wilson's answer is great, but I'd like to clarify one point. As a general rule, hyphens separate morphemes in the source language, and dots separate morphemes in the target language that aren't ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
9 votes

Is there a linguistic term for words that can have the same meaning in different languages?

The term you are looking for (depending on etymological link) is cognate, or false cognate: False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,132
8 votes

Why is transliteration of japanese always done English-style while transliteration from other non-latin script languges doesn't?

The goal of the Hepburn system is to provide a more or less regular, unified system for writing Japanese using the Roman alphabet. Though superficially similar to English, it doesn't have to follow ...
Locoluis's user avatar
  • 456
8 votes
Accepted

Where this notation comes from and what it means

Some of your examples have switched the roles of dots and of hyphens. It seems like it.is.dot.separated to some degree That's right. We want to use spaces to mark word boundaries, so we need some ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

What does the text on this building say?

That is the Westertoren Tower in Amsterdam, the Nederlands. The numbers are regular Roman numerals, but written in a fancy way. The first one is what looks like c|ɔ, but that is how M, 1000, is ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
6 votes
Accepted

Is there a word that describes when supposed word translations have different meaning?

These are called "false friends". Wikipedia: False friends are words in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is the English embarrassed and the ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
  • 2,442
6 votes

Is there any formally recognised concept of a “standard” translation?

There is a clear no answer to this question. There are different styles of doing translations, giving different weights to naturalness in the target language and fidelity to the original language. ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
6 votes

Some languages take more words to say the same thing. Is there a reliable source for this?

This is not a thing that has been done in linguistics, although perhaps it could be done in a limited fashion. The two problems that such a study faces is that there is almost no such thing as "...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
5 votes

The benefits of studying a second language with word-by-word translations in one's mother tongue

I don't know of actual research, but from my personal experience: I agree that word-by-word translations will on the one hand lack features that are not available in the target language and on the ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
5 votes

What languages are the most similar to English?

I am myself a native speaker of Bengali. I also learned English at a very young age. I am really surprised at your comment, "Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, ...
Arjun Janah's user avatar
5 votes

Where to start with deciphering this language?

"How do you go about deciphering a language without any spoken basis, no native speakers to converse with, or another other leads to go on besides ones provided by context alone?" You don't. With ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 7,464
5 votes
Accepted

Origins of a mystery name/word "Bossyi"

This is a surname which is widespread in Eastern Europe, mainly in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. This word comes from Ukrainian and it is an adjective which means "barefoot, without shoes". In ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
5 votes

What are determinants of language specific city names

It tends to depend on the history on the name itself, not "historical importance" of the city per se, although it is definitely plausible that, generally speaking, cities with a more complicated ...
LjL's user avatar
  • 1,847
5 votes

Are European Union parallel multilingual texts ideal for machine learning of machine translation?

Europarl is a classic corpus for research papers, used at the main conference - WMT - and by some of the top people in the field. It would be useful for training a translation system specifically for ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Norwegian Translation Codes (no, nn, nb) - Which to use on a website?

I assume your concern is with regard to Norwegians and not compliance with some statutory requirement (if there is any such requirement, which I doubt, I am certain that it wasn't arrived at by ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
5 votes

Is there any formally recognised concept of a “standard” translation?

Has anyone formalised a technique in which the translator tries to ensure a standard translation, always seeking the word, expression or grammatical structure that corresponds most closely? First of ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 764
5 votes

How did Shiloah (שילוח) become Siloam and Silwan?

I don't think any of these qualify as morphological changes. Koine Greek lacked a /ʃ/ phoneme, so Hebrew shin was regularly transcribed with sigma /s/. The final mu is, I think, a relic of mimation: ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
5 votes

Some languages take more words to say the same thing. Is there a reliable source for this?

Pellegrino et al 2011 attempted to come up with a measure of "semantic information density", getting a variety of translators to translate 20 specific texts into various languages, then ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
5 votes

Looking for references on translatability from the point of view of theories of meaning

You could look at this book, or this handout, which will give you some references. From a linguistic perspective, translation is both extremely complex and extremely simple. I think that there does ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
4 votes

Is there a linguistic term for words that can have the same meaning in different languages?

Besides cognates, there are also chance coincidences (say, Maya vuh and German Buch "book") when clearly unrelated words have the same sound and meaning in different languages.
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Which original language would cause "your" to be translated to "their" in English?

I see now… what was the reason that they blocked me if I did not have any rechasado would seem to come from (Latin American) Spanish (rechasado not being translated because it should be written with z ...
dumetrulo's user avatar
  • 226
4 votes
Accepted

If you can use nouns as verbs for different languages

What you're asking about is called zero derivation. Derivation is when you apply some process to a word to turn it into a new word: in English, for example, you can put -er on a verb to make a new ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k

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