Tuesday, May 08, 2007

¡Lo siento! Ocurrió un error inesperado. (Bienvenidos a MySpace en español)

¡Lo siento! Ocurrió un error inesperado.

Este error se le ha reenviado al grupo técnico de MySpace.

If you've seen this message before, then you probably signed up for MySpace en español.

Really, though, it should be called "MySpace en Spanglish." Or maybe just "MySpace really poorly translated by some online translator in a way that would make any Spanish speaker cringe ... and would make any Spanish teacher flunk the person trying to use it."

Ever use a translator like BabelFish to try to translate something? A word of warning ... don't try using it with your language teacher .... we always know.

How do we know?

Well, first of all, it's kind of obvious when a Spanish I student turns in an essay with pluperfect subjunctive (when said student can't even conjugate a regular verb in the present tense.)

And then, there are the mistranslations.

My daughter's friend showed me an essay she had "written" in Spanish, which included a phrase about someone having to stay behind. The online translator translated that "behind" as trasero ... i.e., the kind of "behind" you sit on.

Want to have some fun? Try it yourself. Go to BabelFish and put in any sentence in English, and translate it to any other language.

For example, I typed in "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," to be translated from English to Spanish.

BabelFish gave me:

"El alcohol está dispuesto, pero la carne es débil.

Now for the really fun part ... have BabelFish translate that sentence back into English!

Here's what I got:

"The alcohol is arranged, but the meat is weak."

(Try it with any saying, with movie titles, etc. ...)

Translating languages is not just about words, and you can't just do it with a computer. Ignore the culture and nuances, and you lose not only the meaning -- you lose the communication, and you lose the motivation to communicate.

And this is what reading MySpace en español is like. The translations are bad (I get things like "Ver todos * Ruth * Chispa Productions Grupos de" for "See Ruth's groups"), and aside from having a few Latinos as suggested "amigos", and some obscure Latino groups as featured artists, there is nothing particularly "español" or "Latino" about it.

I certainly don't see any added bonus. In fact, right now, it's a negative.

Also, you know that error message that opens this post? I get that with practically every "clic."

At this point, MySpace en español seems like a poorly executed attempt to grab the Latino market. I'm not impressed, and I know they can and should do better.

(And here's the REALLY annoying part ... I can't figure out how to get it back into English mode!)