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Friday, July 7, 2023

La Pa Sat .. Singapore market .............. wrong translation !!

The other day while typing message ‘nalla irukkiya ?’ [are you well] – the text got converted on its own to another word, which has a nasty meaning ! ~ fortunately it was to an understanding friend !

Telok Ayer Market [also known colloquially as Lau Pa Sat] ("old market"), is a historic building in Singapore,  located in Downtown Core within the Central Area, Singapore's central business district. It is currently a food centre. There are several shops inside the market such as a 24 hours Cheers Store, a shoe repair shop, a tailor and a laundry store. In the evenings on the weekend a live band plays at the stage in the middle of the market.  Singapore's first market was located at the south bank of the Singapore River.  It is stated that when  Telok Ayer Market first opened in 1825, it extended over the sea. Jetties leading from the market allowed produce to be loaded and unloaded directly onto boats.

The first para error is because of ‘auto-text’, a facility available in Computer, mobiles and other gadgets.  It is a portion of a text preexisting in the computer memory, available as a supplement to newly composed documents, and suggested to the document author by software.  AutoText “entries” are ready-made (boilerplate) frequently used text (or graphics) that is available for use in any document.   Auto-text saves the time of users who type many similar documents, or serves as an assistive technology.  Most of us know that one can add auto-text entries in MS Word and MS Excel formats.

Translation software is another techno-tool.  Mobile translation is a machine translation service for hand-held devices, including mobile telephones, Pocket PCs, and PDAs. It relies on computer programming in the sphere of computational linguistics and the device's communication means (Internet connection or SMS) to work. Mobile translation provides hand-held device users with the advantage of instantaneous and non-mediated translation from one human language to another. 

With this tool, one can freely type in English and have it sent in other vernacular languages, though there will be words which may not get translated or translated with not so appropriate meaning, due to bugs.  Though it may sound pretty innocuous,  from a brand perspective, a devise or an app or a translation tool  may not recognise brand names or proper nouns.  

India learns and those creating technology also needs to learn as there is big market and more money in all these – as according to some estimates, smartphone penetration is going to cross 180 million in a couple of years and 500 million in five years. And as the reach goes longer, there will be more of native speakers who would be using such equipments.   Many companies like SAP and Infosys are piloting mobility programmes to connect with small retailers better.  But for connecting with small-time merchants, applications that work in local vernacular languages would hold the key.  According to market experts, Cloud-based business models with language modules have enormous growth potential. 

Here is something on a wrong Tamil translation that went in circles in the net last year.   It is a photo showing the wrong Tamil translation of popular food destination Lau Pa Sat on a signboard !

While the Tamil words for Lau and Pa are correct on the signboard, the word Sat has been translated into Sani, which means Saturday in Tamil. The word, however, can also be used to curse people in Tamil and denotes ‘Sani baghawan’ connoting negativism.  Protesters say that such  a negative meaning may rile some people.

It reportedly was the work of some who did not know what Lau Pa Sat and what it represents.   Some stated that such  signs are typically put up by the Singapore Tourism Board and there have been more instances of such failed translations.  There have also been occasions, where translations would look in pictures totally incomprehensible, when the font is not supported.

Technology no doubt helps, when handled properly

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Feb 2015.

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