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Sunday, February 19, 2006

It don't come easy - Cars, Kiira Korpi, Eh National Hockey League, Richard Starkey, Peter Best, Brian Hines, and a Lovelorn Synth Freak 

It takes skill, which nearly all of us acquire, to speak a language. It takes additional skill, which some of us acquire, to speak a second language. (Or a third. Or a fifth.)

It takes additional skill altogether to translate between two languages.

When I was very young, I thought that language translation was just a vowel shift. Change the a to an e, the e to an i, and so forth, and voila! (or vuole!) - you're speaking Italian.

I'd like to say that I don't believe that any more, but I do. The evidence is unmistakable. Notice that you can change Japanese to Korean by a few vowel shifts. Don't believe me? Take the Korean word for "Honda," which is "Hyundai."

Last night I ran some Finnish text through a Finnish-English translator, and got some halfhearted results. An anonymous commenter summarized the Finnish text, and explained why Finnish to English translation is so hard:

The article is about the 17-year-old figure skater Kiira Korpi who is going to participate in the Olympic Games in Turin. McDonalds has supported her since 2005 as part of a "Multi-faceted diet and physical exercise" campaign.

It will take many many years still and a huge amount of work to create a perfect Finnish-English machine translator. Finnish presents a huge challenge for that, because it's a complicated, inflecting language (whereas English is isolating). And when such a translator will be created, it probably won't be available for free.

posted by Anonymous : Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:37:53 PM

I have actually seen Finnish to English translation warp a person's mind. I knew a Finnish woman who had lived in the United States for nearly a year, who was then visited by her family. Her family can speak varying degrees of English, but not as rapidly as a native speaker. This made things difficult while we were taking a narrated tour of Avalon (no, not "Now the party's over" - I'm talking about the small town on Catalina Island off the southern California coast). So this woman had to translate, on the spot, between English and Finnish.

It was tough.

But those of us in the United States - even those of us in the southwestern United States - are pretty much isolated from such issues. Not so in Europe:

Next time you are tempted to bemoan the fact of how difficult your job is, think of Karl-Johan Lönnroth and his challenges at the European Commission: 380 (!) possible language combinations, text that can literally be on any subject that you can think of, a quickly dwindling supply of professionals who can perform the work required, a majority of content creators who do not work in their native language, etc. etc.

Here are some other facts and figures to help readers put into perspective the challenges faced by Lönnroth and his team at the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) of the European Commission:
  • In 2004, the Commission translated more than 1,200,000 pages.

  • With the addition of ten new Member States as of 1 May 2004, the number of official languages almost doubled, from 11 to 20.

  • The additional staff required at the DGT after this enlargement was, on average, 60 translators per language. By the end of June 2005, DGT had already recruited 429 translators. It also has some 660 contractors available, including 220 for the nine new languages, for outsourcing work to freelance translators and translation agencies.

The modus operandi is for documents for Commission meetings to always be made available in English, French and German (plus the language of any individual directly concerned by the decision, e.g., parties to competition cases). The final versions are translated into the other official languages immediately afterwards, before being sent to other EU Institutions for debate and approval, in particular to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. In the Commission, the common practice has been to use predominantly English and French in internal meetings. Internal documents sent by the administration to the staff are, in most cases, distributed in English, French and German.

Meanwhile, the official Torino (or Turin) Olympics website is available in Italian, French, and English.

Incidentally, they have now posted the start list for the Ladies' Figure Skating Short Program on February 21.

Warm-Up Group No. 1

3 POYKIO Susanna FIN

Warm-Up Group No. 2

9 PAVUK Viktoria HUN
10 LIU Yan CHN

Resurfacing of the Ice
Warm-Up Group No. 3

14 ANDO Miki JPN
17 MEIER Sarah SUI

Warm-Up Group No. 4

21 ARAKAWA Shizuka JPN
23 CARTER Joanne AUS

Resurfacing of the Ice
Warm-Up Group No. 5

24 LUCA Roxana ROM
25 KIM Yong Suk PRK
28 KOSTNER Carolina ITA
29 COHEN Sasha USA

Incidentally, I actually found something in English about Kiira Korpi. (There's a little more Korpimania in the blogosphere right now, but (as to be expected) much of it is Suomistuff.)

Soon it will the time for Ladies' Skating to start. I like Pöykiö better than Korpi, but she's been having trouble with her leg, so it's not likely that she will place well. I'll just have to hope that Kiira is in good shape and will be able to place well for her level, even though I have no delusions about either of them actually winning a medal....

*is randomly amused by the thought that Kiira Korpi might have been an Ice Hockey player instead*

Well, she could always be recruited later. But probably not in the United States. We have enough problems trying to maintain a professional women's basketball league, and we even have enough problems trying to maintain a professional men's hockey league. I don't see a pro women's hockey league here any time in the future.

Which leads me to my random question - does the "National" in National Hockey League stand for the U.S., or for Canada? Let's turn to Wikipedia:

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 in Monteal, Canada after a series of disputes in the Canadian National Hockey Association (NHA) between Edward J. Livingstone, owner of the Toronto Blueshirts, and owners of other teams. The owners met at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal to talk about the NHA's future. Livingstone was unable to go to the meeting because of an illness he had and was amazed to learn that the team owners had decided to effectively release him and the Toronto Blueshirts from the NHA. Discussions eventually led to the creation of the National Hockey League and got the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and newly-renamed Toronto Arenas as founding teams....

The league had...expanded into the United States with the Boston Bruins in the 1924-25 season, the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1925-26 season and the New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars (now known as the Red Wings), and the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1926-27 season.

Incidentally, the Stanley Cup is older than the National Hockey League, and has not always been an end of year battle between two NHL teams:

It was originally used as the trophy given out to the top amateur hockey team in Canada, decided by the acceptance of a challenge from another team by the Cup holders and trustees....

The Cup was originally presented in 1893 to the Montreal AAA, the champion of the Amateur Hockey Association, the top hockey league of Canada at the time....

The first Stanley Cup playoff game occurred in March 17, 1894, and the first game where the Cup was on the line occurred on March 22 the same year. The year saw four teams out of the five-team AHA tied for the championship with records of 5-3-0. This created problems for the AHA governors and the league trustees as to which team was champion, as there were no tiebreaking system in place. After long negotiation and the withdrawal of Quebec from the championship situation, it was decided that a three-team tournament would take place in Montreal, with the Ottawa team getting a bye to the finals (being the sole "road" team). The first Stanley Cup Final game saw the Montreal AAA successfully defending their title with a 3-1 win.

The next year saw the first challenge for the cup, by Queen's University. However, this did not come without controversy. On March 8, 1895, the Montreal Victorias won the league title, and thus the Stanley Cup, but the challenge match, which was scheduled earlier for the next day, was to be between the previous year's champion and the university squad. Thus, it was decided by the trustees that the Montreal AAA, if they won the challenge match, would mean that the Victorias would become the Stanley Cup champions. The AAA would eventually win the match 5-1, while their cross-town rivals were crowned the champions.

The first successful challenge was made the next year by the Winnipeg Victorias, the champions of the Manitoba Hockey League. On February 14, 1896, the Winnipeg squad defeated the champions 2-0, becoming the first team from outside of the AHA to win the Cup. Their cup reign was brief, though: the Montreal Victorias, upon winning the AHA championship, demanded a rematch for the Cup. In what was said to be the most anticipated hockey game of the time, the Montreal Victorias defeated the Winnipeg Victorias 6-5 on December 30, 1896....

1924 saw the merger of the PCHA and the WCHL to form the Western Hockey League. Its champion that season, the Victoria Cougars, was the last team outside the NHL to win the Stanley Cup. Following the WHL's demise after the following season, the Cup's Trustees effectively granted the NHL exclusive control of the Stanley Cup....

Even today, the Cup's trustees decide on the teams eligible to play for the Cup, although since 1926 NHL teams de facto are the only ones eligible. In 1947, the NHL reached an agreement (revised in 2000) where the trustees were only bound to award the Cup to the NHL champions (effectively automatically refusing challenges from other leagues that may have wished to play for the Cup). This last agreement is a particularly contentious one, with the effect of 2004-05 NHL lockout resulting in the Cup not being awarded since the 1918-19 NHL season and the opinion held by some that the Cup trustees overstepped their bounds in signing the 1947 agreement.

Because of the labor dispute resulting in the Stanley Cup not being awarded, some have questioned whether the National Hockey League has exclusive control over the Silver Cup, and whether today other (non-NHL) teams could vie for the trophy in lieu of an NHL season or even alongside the NHL. In December 2004, a group of fans attempted to ask the trophy's trustees to restore the challenge, with the winners of theMemorial Cup, Allan Cup, and the University Cup, alongside the top Canadian American Hockey League and ECHL teams competing for the Stanley Cup. The Cup's trustees, longtime NHL officials Scotty Morrison and Brian O'Neill, made no formal ruling, but did make the implication that they were only obligated to award the Stanley Cup to NHL teams. The Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, had also alternatively proposed that the Cup be presented to women's hockey teams in lieu of the NHL season. This idea was unpopular, with many women's hockey players preferring to vie over a new trophy for their own.

On February 2006, the National Hockey League reached an agreement in which the Cup trustees could award the Cup to non-NHL teams should the league not operate for a particular season.

Well, it may appear to non-discerning minds that I'm wandering from topic to topic with no apparent purpose, but there is an intelligent design (heh) in this narrative. If (as Ron Fineman claims) Nance plays god with the weather, and if Mormons believe that men will become gods....

Whoops. Deja vu. (Deja vous. Dije vuas.) So let's talk about Ringo Starr, again.

According to the BBC, Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" has appeared on Top of the Pops four times:

Ringo Starr
It Don't Come Easy
15th April, 1971
(presenter) Ed Stewart

Ringo Starr
It Don't Come Easy
22nd April, 1971
Jimmy Savile
Promo Video

Ringo Starr
It Don't Come Easy
29th April, 1971
Tony Blackburn
Promo Video

Ringo Starr
It Don't Come Easy
13th February, 2006
Colin Jackson, Fearne Cotton, Sue Barker
Repeat Performance

I don't know if Ringo Starr knows any Finnish, but if you don't, don't show off at DVD Times:

English only - comments in other languages will be removed.

Well, those begging for Finnish or Arabic or whatever will have to make do with this:

When asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon replied that he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles. However, like a lot of things Lennon said, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Certainly the popular image of Ringo as one of the luckiest men alive, making his name and a vast fortune on the much greater talent of three other men, needs re-examining....It’s as a musician that Starr’s influence is greatest, as along with other innovators like Charlie Watts and Keith Moon, he redefined pop/rock drumming in the 1960s. If anyone is in any doubt, just listen to “Rain” (Starr’s own personal favourite), “She Said She Said”, “Tomorrow Never Knows” among others, then say that this man couldn’t play the drums....

But what about the other guy? Pete Best has a band which, as of the fall of 2005, was touring the United States and Canada. The picture gallery includes pictures of Pete with Denny Laine, Allan Williams, Tony Sheridan, and others.

By the way - Denny Laine's birth name was Brian Hines. And marijuana tangentially influenced his first post-Wings album:

After the British Tour in late 1979, Wings take off for Tokyo on January 16th, 1980, in order to start a new tour in Japan.

On flight's arrival, customs officers discover some marijuana in Paul's luggage. Paul is immediately arrested and remains incarcerated during 10 days.

He is finally expelled from Japan and all the forthcoming Wings concerts are cancelled. Paul will have to refund the price of one hundred thousand tickets already sold at that time.

But it doesn't matter anyway, for Wings record selling in Japan is multiplied by five, owing to the Tokyo airport incident....

The Japanese incident leads the band to split up. Laurence Juber and Steve Holly decide to quit Wings temporarily, and Denny Laine goes to Paris where he starts recording his own album, entitled Japanese Tears. This album, directly inspired by Paul's misfortune, is recorded with the help of two former Wings members, Denny Seiwell and Jimmy McCulloch. Japanese Tears will go unremarked by the public.

Incidentally, if you visit the website above, you'll hear an instrumental of the song "Waterfalls," which takes the title for the most overly paranoid song of all time. Yeah, the "cute one" could be a monster. "Please lock yourself in the closet and don't even dare to breathe," indeed. I exaggerate only slightly.

...Don't run after motor cars
Please stay on the side
Someone's glossy motor car
Might take you for a ride.
And I need love...

And we won't even touch "Temporary Secretary." Heh. Perhaps it sounds less sinister when it's sung in Finnish.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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