Let's see how reliable machine translators really are (translation of French "ça va")
Thread poster: George Trail

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:04
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
May 15, 2010

One of the first phrases you learn when you start learning French is, "ça va ?", which, of course, means, "How are you?" Of course, those accomplished enough in the language will know the meaning of the individual word "ça" and the meaning of the individual word "va", of the verb aller. And they know - they just know - that a literal translation of "ça va ?" would be something like, "does it go?"; which really doesn't mean the same on the surface as, "How are you?", does it?

I decided to run the phrase "ça va" through a handful of machine translators available online. This is what I got.

http://www.worldlingo.com English translation: "Does that go?"

Babelfish English translation: "Does that go?"

http://www.freetranslation.com: "Is that going?"

I hope this serves as good reference to people who are starting to learn a new language for the first time, about what it really means that translation is not just about replacing words with words. Although I have to admit that I was impressed with what http://www.wordreference.com suggested for "ça va?"

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-05-16 12:12 GMT]


Local time: 15:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ups... May 16, 2010

George Trail wrote:
One of the first phrases you learn when you start learning French is, "ça va ?", which, of course, means, "How are you?"

No it doesn't.

I vividly remember the day I finished rebuilding the engine of my Triumph GT6 Mk1 (of 1967 vintage for the 'aficionados') in my garage in Belgium. A friend came to witness the magic moment of 'ignition' - but he arrived late, only to see the beast sputtering and coughing violently on three or four of its six cyclinders, as if in need of oxygen - as I did myself, half suffocated by the fumes in the confined space of my garage. "Ca va!?!?" he exclaimed (a mere question might have been considered insolent in the circumstances). "Ouais, 'vais bien !", I coughed. To which my friend replied, without the slightest sign of a smile on his face, "Bof ! - Toi mon vieux, je m'en fiche éperduement - je demande pour le moteur - Ça va? - Il tourne?".


[Edited at 2010-05-16 02:18 GMT]


Alexandre Chetrite
Local time: 20:04
English to French
"Ah ca ira ca ira"? May 16, 2010

Try to find a good machine translation for "Ah ca ira! Ca ira!"icon_smile.gif (French Revolution)


boostrer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:04
Member (2007)
English to Russian
+ ...
mil neuf cent soixante sept May 23, 2010

Google translate:
nineteen seventy seven (reported by a Google victim).


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Let's see how reliable machine translators really are (translation of French "ça va")

Advanced search

Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »

  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search