Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A proposito delle traduzioni automatiche e,  in senso lato,  alla faciloneria con cui si demanda all’esterno qualcosa di importante e, in prospettiva, vitale per la nostra azienda.
Quello qua sotto era un claim di una campagna pubblicitaria o non so cosa. Il senso, apodittico per un umano è:  lontano dagli occhi, lontano dal cuore. (qui una versione piu’ circostanziata)

[Budiansky, 1999]

In the early 1960s, an apocryphal tale went around about a computer that the CIA had built to translate between English and Russian: to test the machine, the programmers decided to have it translate a phrase into Russian and then translate the result back into English, to see if they’d get the same words they started with. The director of the CIA was invited to do the honors; the programmers all gathered expectantly around the console to watch as the director typed in the test words: “Out of sight, out of mind.” The computer silently ground through its calculations. Hours passed. Then, suddenly, magnetic tapes whirred, lights blinked, and a printer clattered out the result: “Invisible insanity.”
[Collected on the Internet, 1999]

Some scientists were testing a program that could translate from English to Chinese and back again. They fed into their computer the English phrase “Out of sight, out of mind,” and out came some Chinese ideograms. Since none of the scientists in the room at that moment knew Chinese well enough to determine whether the computer’s Chinese translation had captured the spirit of the English phrase, they fed the ideograms back into the computer. The translation back into English read “Invisible idiot.”
[Collected on the Internet, 1999]

Rumors have it that early modules for English to Russian have mistranslated some idioms with amusing results. Translating the phrase “The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak” to Russian and back to English resulted in: “The vodka was good, but the meat was rotten.” Likewise “out of sight, out of mind” reportedly yielded the phrase “blind and insane.”
[Tan, 1979]

A firm experimenting with an electronic brain designed to translate English into Russian fed it the words: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The machine responded with a sentence in Russian which meant, a linguist reported, “The whisky is agreeable, but the meat has gone bad.”


Le implicazioni del significante possono essere moltissime, se consideriamo la frase nel suo complesso e, soprattutto nel contesto (cosa vogliamo non vedere? perché?)

Mettendo in mano a un traduttore automatico leggeremmo: invisibile, pazzo. Letteralmente corretto, ma fuori dalla semantica.

For something as simple as that, the phrase works. The girl might have remembered the toy, but it was not there, so other things took importance. It was not what she thought about at first. She could focus on the toy that she brought to church.

Using “in mind” for “remembered” started in the 13th century. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is found as “Out of sight out of minde” in 1867 in A dialogue conteynyng prouerbes and epigrammes, 1562, as reprinted by the Spenser Society.

There are many jokes saying that computers have translated “out of sight, out of mind,” into such things as “invisible idiot” and “blind and insane.”

There’s also the joke that says “computers can wreck a nice peach” instead of “computers can recognize speech.

In 1997, it was found that translating “out of sight, out of mind” into Russian and from Russian back into English resulted in “from the sighting, from the reason.”

Translation technology is getting better. Google translate can translated many languages and it is usually close. Translating “out of sight, out of mind,” into Afrikaans and then back to English worked perfectly. It seems that it works with the other languages as well, though every language was not tested.