I think I heard that story too. I didn't have the original version, so I was
making up something similar from memory.
The online translator seems to use the context in decision making too, so
there is some intelligence to it. Here is what one online translator did for
original: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
to French: L'esprit veut, mais la chair est faible.
to English: The spirit wants, but flesh is weak.
to French: L'esprit veut, mais étoffer est faible.
to English: The spirit wants, but to fill out is weak.
to French: L'esprit veut, mais remplir est faible.
to English: The spirit wants, but to fill is weak.
So we end up with "The spirit wants, but to fill is weak." :-)
But while this might be funny, software translation can still be useful in
many cases, for example, just to have a sense/guess of what the other
speaker is talking about, and if we know the context, the translation can be
useful. I have prepared some handouts translated from English to Chinese.
Since I know both languages, I can edit the translation, and the *free*
translator has saved me some time in the translation process.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tom Sobota [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 4:13 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: Coating Without a Machine
> Dave, I heard the story as an attempted experiment in
> computer translation between English and Russian in the
> fifties or sixties. The answer given in the version I heard
> was "The vodka is good but the meat is rotten".
> I heard this story around 1968. It could have been an urban
> myth, of course.
> Tom Sobota
> Madrid, Spain
> Dave S wrote:
> > To this I should say "the wine is so inviting, but the meat
> is rotten."
> > Has anyone heard this expression before? It was from a
> translation of a
> > translation of "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." :-)
> > Dave