December 06, 2005

Semantic Translation Part 1

My wife was doing some Christmas shopping for our little Guatemalan daughter, Evie, and picked up this magical animated lamp. Evie is going to love it! Upon further inspection of the packaging I discovered the perfect example to explain the benefits of Semantic Translation in GIS and CAD translation.

Look at the product name. It is classic! SEABED WORLD LAMP LIGHTING MOVE. What does that MEAN? My wife and I tried to decode it using knowledge of the product, the picture and the cryptic English word conversion. Lets pick it apart. SEABED..., an interesting choice of words. WORLD perhaps this gives us a clue to the author's intent... The product is creating an environment a WORLD. In English, I think we would say "underwater-world". LAMP..., well yes it is a lamp. LIGHTING,... Yes, it has a light and could be lighting up the room? MOVE...,well a Chinese person unfamiliar with English grammar could easily misplace the -ING ending on the verb MOVE. The words LAMP and LIGHT or LIGHTING are redundant, maybe in China the word for LAMP is not as specific as it is in English. I think what my wife bought for my daughter is a "Moving Undersea-World Lamp".

It is my opinion that GIS and CAD are likewise different spatial languages. Context, jargon, slang, word order, figures of speech and convention are all relevant to the discussion of GIS an CAD translation. Simply converting one word to another as you can see doesn't guarantee the translation is successful, or that meaning has been transferred. Here is some more text from the lamp packaging submitted for your amusement. In case you can't quite make it out, the package says:

1.) Please don't place it in the following places:
a) Nearby strong vibration.
b) in the dusty place

2.) Please do not touch in the movement.

3.) Please dno't (sp) clean it by using paint or other chemical materials. Neuter soap or cleaner as cleaning liquid is recommenable.

* This is not designed for lighting purposes, and should not be used continuously for periods over 8 hours.

4. Plesse (sp) don't place the product nearby the things that easily catch fire or curtain.

Until next post... beware of "the dusty place!"

Continue to Part 2...

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