Word Ways


It is well known that all languages have their own peculiar idioms. Reckless translation into foreign languages can sometimes have unfortunate, and sometimes funny, consequences. This fact is amply illustrated by the following story. An engineer had once devised a program which would enable him to translate between any two languages on earth. He described his program at a technical meeting, and in order to demonstrate its power, he had a computer loaded with the new program. After describing the program, he asked the audience to suggest a phrase for him to ask the computer to translate. Someone suggested the phrase "out of sight, out of mind". The engineer punched this into the machine, and then asked someone else in the audience to suggest a language that he might translate to. Someone suggested Russian. He loaded that into the machine, punched the Go button, and waited. The machine whirred for a few moments, and finally announced that the translation was such-and-such (in Russian).