Read a little bit of this. Explanation after the jump. Bleak but funny.
Explanation: I have mentioned before the perils of relying on computerized translation -- something that is particularly popular in China, with results like this famous one, over a sign that is supposed to say "restaurant":
That is what we are dealing with in the "Inhabitant Public Radio" case.
Just now I was looking just now for further developments in the sad story of John P. Wheeler, previously here. Despite a lot of extremely far-fetched conspiratorial speculation, this is, according to interviews and videos from Delaware, increasingly looking like a more mundane yet all the more heart-breaking situation.
But one of the accounts I saw was from Vietnam. That wasn't so odd on its face, given how much of Wheeler's life work had been about the aftereffects of the Vietnam war. But this one, quoted above, was very odd indeed. It was a transcript of an interview with me, talking with Melissa Block, last night on NPR's All Things Considered. The English version of what we said is here; the "Inhabitant Public Radio" discussion, with me as "bard" and Melissa Block feeling "contemptible" to hear this sad story, must have been the result of a computerized-translation journey from English into Vietnamese and back again.
An interesting article in the Economist recently said that English was about to peak as a world language, because computerized translation would soon work well enough that people could stick with their native tongues. If this is any indication, it's still going to take a while.
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