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Re: translation problems

> reference:  serving the needs of lojban learners
> la lojbab cusku di'e
> > The 4th category of traffic I would call "translation problems"  The
> > Broken Phone game and mark Vines song lyrics are both exercises in
> > translation.
> > Translation could be a good way to learn the language EXCEPT That,
> > especially for beginners, you quickly get involved in some kind of a
> > semantics trap.
> Are you saying that translation problems are inappropriate for this
> mailing list?
> Are you saying that beginners do not benefit when "semantics traps" are
> discussed?
> Then I began posting to the list in
> Lojban -- la and, la xorxes & la mark quite helpfully responded -- but I
> got in over my head & had to retreat to English.

That is what he is saying. A person starts to learn a language. To learn,
he has to practice. And so, one of the first things people do is to take
some normal text in their native langs and try to translate it into their
new playtoy. But it doesn't work, and they soon get discouraged. I tried
to translate a child poem in Croatian that goes in English roughly as


  Far away, where the city ceases,
  in the grass,
  the moon waits, hidden,
  and looks at his watch
  if it's the time already
  to let the world see him.

I couldn't for the life of me find a way to express the last two lines
in lojban. This is an example of the semantic traps lojbab was talking
about (if I understood him correctly). The beginners can't cope with
something like that, and most of them can't distinguish between what is
it that they cannot yet translate and what is it that the language is
incapable of expressing. If they mistake the former for the latter,
they can become disappointed and quit.

> I surrendered, but
> la goran taxed my proposal for its prose anyway, arguing that my desire
> to say "flyswatter" succintly in Lojban must be malglico because he can't
> remember what flyswatters are called in Croatian (note:  that's just an
> absurdist parody of la goran's argument -- I hope!).

As I said, I am the local cultural and semantic nitpicker. Every such
group needs to have one, I think. :) The thing I was trying to do is to
tell you that there is no much need for succintness in such expressions,
and especially so in lojban, because it is quite normal for it to have
longer expressions than other languages because of the small size of the
vocabulary, need for preciseness and syntactic complexity. You have to
admit that in English the trisyllabic word "flyswatter" can also very
well be a person using it, or some flying thing that does the swatting.
lojban can't permit such things; and preciseness is not very compatible
with brevity.

> Okay, I thought
> then, I'll drop the design issues & turn to something more pedagogically
> useful, like a translation exercise.  Which I then posted.  But now you
> seem to be saying that translation exercises are bad because they might
> frighten off beginners....

Of course not. It's just not something that the beginners should be
doing. I mean, translating lyrics. Lyrics and poems are among the
hardest things to translate, and attempts thereof are bound to be very
unsuccessful pe'i. That is not something I consider bad in itself:
corrections teach best (that's how I learned lojban in the first place);
but some beginners might get discouraged and lose the interest.

> I don't know what kind of interaction you want to have with beginners
> like me.  Every approach I've tried has failed.  I've taken initiative
> after initiative here, but now I'm fresh out.  You're willing to teach me
> humility.  Who is willing to teach me la lojban?

.u'i No you misjudge us badly. ko ciska bau la lojban. .ibabo mi'a spuda
.i mi'a dragau .i mi'o casnu .i mi'o se pluka

Besides, I see that xorxes has translated your lyrics. I was a bit
afraid to do so myself, it seemed like a toughie, and wasn't sure I
could do it. This is a welcome experience unless people get frightened
by it, and I would like that to continue.

One more suggestion: if you are stubborn enough, it would have done
you more good to post both the lyrics and your attempt at translating
it. That way one quickly gets to know one's weak points and learns much
more swiftly.

I do hope you won't take this termri to be a lecture in humility. On the
contrary. The only lecture here is: ko ba'e pilno la lojban.

> co'o mi'e mark,l

co'o fi'i. mark,l. mi'e. goran. noi dusta'a ca le cabdei

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