Translation seen as a probabilistic process

These days, I have been writing what effectively has turned out to be a series of posts on the different broad views of the world implicitly assumed by physicists, over the course of the development of the subject. … The last time I had ended up de facto having a series at this blog—without planning for one—was the one on the diffusion equation: the Brownian movement, Fourier’s theory, and all that; see here [^], [^], [^] and here [^].

That topic has become once more relevant, because of a certain peculiar nature of Fourier’s theory. In the present series, we have seen how the phenomenon of gravity throws a spanner in the neat scheme we might first think of, for the first world. … We had to split our first world (that corresponding to the Newtonian mechanics) into two, only because of this odd man out of gravity. Further, as already noted earlier in this series, Fourier’s theory, too, throws a proverbial spanner into the scheme of our first world, because unlike the rest of it, Fourier’s is a theory that necessarily involves a physical instantaneous action-at-a-distance.

I wanted to write on that topic, i.e., on the nature of the Fourier theory and whether or how it necessitates further splitting up of our neat first world. In fact, I also have a few other posts coming up very soon on the related topics. At least one, or perhaps two, will be on the nature of space, the physical universe, and the relation between the two. For instance, issues like: what is the meaning of the concept of space, the question of whether the space is infinite or not, whether the [physical] universe is infinite or not, etc.

However, certain comments, once again, interfered.

I received a few comments written in some seemingly hieroglyphic-kind of a language. For instance, this passage (given below). Since I could not make the head or the tail of it, what I did was to open up the Google Translate page, copy-paste the comment material, and try to make a sense of the comment. Here are the passages:

An excerpt from the original (which is, according to the Google Translate, in Japanese):

“Pythonの冬の数ヶ月の葉で作られたとみなされているレザーベースのトリム識別名ブランドやエンブレム次の裏地を持っている。嵐もうすぐキャンプrrnsideできるだけあなたの特別なバッグ “ウエット”パックでは、家に帰ってくるとすぐに溶液を除去し、空気乾燥しているのに役立ちます。ワイプは、それを維持する前に、すべての残骸を立ち上げました。それは屋外ながら、毎日この問題の世話をする場合に最適であることを起こる。そこにいくつかの犬の所有者があり、すべての立ち上げ、犬の糞袋を分解することができる使用して確立された場合、それらはすべての貢献との違いを作成しません。彼らは写真の犬を散歩されるべき電話番号犬は実際に、それはすべての所有者は、子犬うんち袋を使用されるかどうか、特に、地球に影響を与えることができます。”

The translation provided by the Google Translate:

“You have the lining of the emblem and trim next distinguished name brand of leather -based that is considered to be made ​​of leaves of the winter months of Python. In a special bag ” wet ” your pack as much as possible camping rrnside, helps to remove the solution immediately , to specify that air dry and come home soon storm . Before you can keep it , wipe , launched debris all . It happens to be while outdoors , it is best if you want to take care of this problem every day . If it is established using may have the owner of some dogs there, up to all , to decompose the droppings dog bag , they do not create a difference between all contributions . Phone number dog should be walking the dog in the picture actually , the owner of all , whether you are using the bag poo puppy , in particular , will be able to affect the earth it is they .”

Thank you, Google! … What you did for me was not just to provide a translation but also the impetus for me to pursue some ideas of my own… Your offering has inspired me to pursue a few things I wouldn’t have normally thought of trying, for a blog post. …

… Here, I immediately remembered a certain blog-discussion which I had some time ago at the “Applying philosophy…” blog. That discussion was about, among other things, the philosophic issue of the mind-body dichotomy. … In particular, I remembered that I had supplied a translation of a wonderful piece of poetry by Gulzar. (Since it actually is a song from a Hindi film, technically, it should be called a piece of lyrics. Technically.) The song in question is: “ham ne dekhi hai un aakhon se…”

Here are the lyrics of the song, copy-pasted from the “HindiLyricsPratik” blog, here [^]. Those who know Hindi would know why I call it a poem:

“हमने देखी है उन आँखों की महकती ख़ुशबू
हाथ से छू के इसे रिश्तों का इल्ज़ाम न दो
सिर्फ़ एहसास है ये रूह से महसूस करो
प्यार को प्यार ही रहने दो कोई नाम न दो

प्यार कोई बोल नहीं, प्यार आवाज़ नहीं
एक ख़ामोशी है, सुनती है, कहा करती है
न ये बुझती है, न रुकती है, न ठहरी है कहीं
नूर की बूँद है सदियों से बहा करती है
सिर्फ एहसास…

मुस्कुराहट सी खिली रहती है आँखों में कहीं
और पलकों पे उजाले से झुके रहते हैं
होंठ कुछ कहते नहीं, काँपते होंठों पे मगर
कितने ख़ामोश से अफ़साने रुके रहते हैं
सिर्फ़ एहसास…”

Here is the translation that I had offered during that blog-discussion of ours. In my translation, I had tried, as usual, to be as close to the original Hindi as possible. Here it is. [However, please note, I now have modified my original translation quite a bit further here—I got access to a better transliteration of the lyrics of songs, and also thought of somewhat better words with which to translate them.]

[For those who don’t know Hindi, realize that the speaker here is a lady—the heroine of the film—talking through this song to the hero]:

“I have seen that fragrance emanating from those eyes [of yours],
[And now] with this touch of a hand, don’t lay upon this all the accusation of a relationship,
This is [meant to be] just an awareness, experience it with the soul,
Let love remain love, don’t give it any name.

Love is not some talk, love is not sound [or something said aloud],
It is a silence which listens, and [also] is in the habit of saying [something],
It does not extinguish, nor does it stop, nor has it stayed put in some [one] place,
It’s a drop of light, it has been flowing since ages.
This is [meant to be] just an awareness….

Something like a laughter keeps blossoming somewhere in eyes,
And, at the eyelids, some kind of effulgences stay [back as if] bowed down,
The lips don’t say anything, but still, on those quivering lips,
How many silent stories are kept holding back.
This is [meant to be] just an awareness….”

BTW, if you are interested in another take at translation, see R. S. Khanna’s blog here [^]. In this revision of my translation, I found both Khanna’s transliteration and translation quite helpful (e.g., “quivering” now replaces my original “shivering,” etc.) [My original attempt can still be found intact at the above-mentioned link to the “Applying philosophy…” blog.]

I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, and also, a Diploma in Advanced Computing, apart from quite a bit of experience (some 10+ years) in software engineering. But, anyway, I am jumping ahead of myself here. First things, first. So, here is the Google translation of the original Hindi:

“We have seen those eyes sweet scented fragrance
Let ‘s not blame it touches the hand of relationships
Only to realize Feel the spirit
Give a name to love Let there be love

No Love Lyrics , Love Bleep
A silence , listens , said that
This is not quenched , neither stops nor is staying somewhere
The blob is poured over the centuries Noor
Just realized …

Nowhere is blossoming like a smile in the eyes
Light on the tip of the eyelids
Lips do not say anything , but on the lips quavering
How many stayed silent and live Afsane
Just realized …”

Thank you, Google!

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But what was that bit about my educational qualifications and experience that appeared seemingly out of nowhere right in the middle, you ask? … Good question. And, I also have yet to come to the “probabilistic” part of the title.

…Well, the thing is, I do understand something about the probabilistic but mechanical way in which the Google Translate (GT) works. Its mechanism. It is not via the usual route of a semantics-based translation, e.g. some NLP (natural language processing) algorithms or so! Instead, what it does is the following. … Suppose you want to translate a passage from Hindi to English. All that GT does is to first…. Oh well! Wait!! … Geoffrey Pullum does a far better job of explaining it than I could ever hope to do, and so, let me direct you to him right away [^] (HT to Abi [^]).

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But this post is not over… Not yet…

Here is a piece of Hindi poetry that has recently appeared on the “Applying philosophy” blog, here [^]:

“न थी इजाज़त, जो देखने की,
कुछ ऐसे सपने सजाये मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, भुला दूं उनको,
बिना इजाज़त सता रहे हैं

न थी इजाज़त, जो बोलने की,
वह बात दिल में बसाई मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, निकालूँ उस्को,
बिना इजाज़त बसी हुई है

न थी इजाज़त, जो चाहने की,
वह चाह दिल में जगाई मैंने,
जो चाहता हूँ, न चाहूं उस्को,
बिना इजाज़त जला रही है”

Great poetry, though I haven’t [yet] tried translating it into English. But that’s besides the point. Update: Here is my translation:


there was no permission, to see [some] such [things],
some such dreams I embellished,
what I [now] wish, [is that] I should forget them,
without permission they are annoying [me].

there was no permission, to speak of [some] such [a thing],
[it is] that thing [which] I [let be] inhabited in [my] heart,
what I [now] wish, [is that] I should remove it,
without permission, [it has] stayed on.

there was no permission, to desire [some] such [a thing],
[it is] such a desire [which] I awakened in my heart,
what I [now] wish, [is that] I should not seek it,
without permission, [it] is burning [me].”

But the real point, here, of course, is: the Google translation:

“Did not permit the viewing,
Decorated I had some dreams,
You want me to forget them,
Leave without picking

Was not allowed, speaking of which,
I have settled in the heart of the matter,
Who want to remove Usco,
Without permission is inhabited

Was not allowed, which is wanting;
I want to wake in the heart,
Who want Usco not want,
Without permission is lighting”

…Oh, lines… Oh, that line at the end of the first stanza! … And, oh, that “Usco”!! … And, oh, I almost forgot this: Hey, thanks, really, Google!

And, BTW, that comment in Japanese—the one which provided the spark to write this post in the first place—has now been taken off the spam filter, and been approved already… Thank you, Internet! Thank you, Al Gore!! And, thank you, you all!!!

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A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “hum ne dekhi hai…” [And what else did you think it would be?]
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics: Gulzaar
Music: Hemant Kumar