“Translators”

Let us turn now to the all-consuming (literally) internet, formerly known as the World Wide Web. In that vast region there are many sites relating to Yiddish. Google turns up no less than 124,000 of them, including some that claim to be “translators.” As a professional translator, Der Vortsman was drawn to one that promised to be “the most comprehensive automated Yiddish translator on the internet: guaranteed.”

We typed in: “I wanted to go for a walk.” In real Yiddish, that would be: ikh hob gevolt geyn af a shpatsir or ikh hob gevolt geyn shpatsirn. The “guaranteed” result came back as:  ikh vilst keyn geyn shpatsirn. The word-for-word re-translation is: I/you want/not/to go/walking.

Intrigued, we then typed in “I wanted to go for a stroll” and got back “ikh vilst keyn geyn oyf a stroll—(…on a stroll).Stroll,” of course, does not exist in Yiddish. Bottom line: watch your Yiddish step on the internet.

(This coming Sunday, Sept. 18, Der Vortsman will be carrying Yiddishkayt’s flag het vayt —far off—to the Orange County Yiddish Festival at Temple Beth Tikvah in Fullerton, speaking on a topic well-known to his readers here: “How To Spell Yiddish in English [err…Latin] Letters.”)

Der Vortsman is Hershl Hartman, long-time Yiddishkayt Board Member and Education Director at the Sholem Community.