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Grammars: where Linguistics meets Computer Science

Noam Chomsky is a celebrity in many fields. Some translators get surprised when I mention that he is also well known in Computer Science. He invented (discovered?) a classification of grammars as formal systems according to their power of expression (or processing): the Chomsky Hierarchy. This scheme classifies the languages generated by the grammars in […]

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Machine Translation

A delightful example illustrates well one of the earliest myths about the problems that may arise when trying to translate text using a computer. The biblical sentence “The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak” was translated into Russian by a machine, and then back into English. The result was “The vodka is good, but […]

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Acronyms and Abbreviations

There is little consensus in the English world on the distinction between acronyms and abbreviations when dealing with shortened versions of words and phrases. Here are some aspects to consider: Abbreviation The most general term, which loosely applies to all shortening of words or phrases, is “abbreviation”. This term covers all examples, from contracting the […]

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What Does Proofreading Really Mean

The term “proofreading” is bandied about in our industry when dealing with translations or simple publications of writings in one language that are not translated. Yet many of the people I have encountered have no real training in the craft, so it is important to establish exactly what a professional agency would be looking for […]

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Triphthongs in Spanish

A triphthong is a sequence of three vowels making up one syllable. Some examples in Spanish would be: a – pre – ciáis, co – piéis, buey. For a triphthong to exist, two closed atonic vowels (“i” or “u”) and, between them, an open vowel (“a”, “e”, or “o”): anunciáis, guau, miau, confiéis. Sequences of […]

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