Found in Translation

Posted by Garth on Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm sure surviving in Thailand was a lot different before the internet.  I can't count the number of times I've used online translators when talking to my girlfriend simply to make myself understood.  And it just keeps getting better.  Tonight I was talking to her about red and yellow peppers, and by name she didn't know what they were.  So I pulled up Google Images and showed her some pictures.  She obviously knew what they were by image, and then I saw a picture of roasted red pepper soup (my favorite!) and told her so.  Next thing I knew she had me pulling up a recipe for it and using Google Translate to translate the web page into Thai so that she could make it.  And, though I don't read Thai, it appears as though Google's translations are pretty bang on.  Or at least understandable.  This has both made my life here a lot easier, and made my desire to learn Thai far less.  I know a few words that I use repeatedly (mostly restaurant and convenience store type stuff), but as far as grammar and reading/writing, I'm useless.  But does that really matter?  Actually, check that... will that really matter in 5 or 10 years?  It definitely matters now, but once I have a device that listens to what I say and speaks it back in Thai - or vice versa - actual knowledge of language won't really matter so much.  Unless your battery and/or internet connection die :)

Along those lines, there are some funny things that I've heard in English.  Somewhat insightful even.

  1. My last gf used to say (when she fell asleep reading a book) that the book was reading her.
  2. My gf today said (when I gave her my iPod to play with) that she was like a monkey with a coconut.  I.e. she had no idea what to do with it or how to get it "open".


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