Epreuve d’entraînement #T2M2021 : machine translated mansplaining

Unlike the closed-book language assessment tasks you are likely to have encountered during your BA program, the Master T2M entrance exam scheduled for 28 May does not prohibit the judicious use of machine translation. Post-editing, online corpora, specialised termbases and other tools such as spelling and grammar checkers are allowed and even encouraged… provided that you cite the tools and resources used and are able to explain how and why you arrived at the solution you choose to submit. You may be asked to justify your choices and working methods during the written exam and may also be asked follow-up questions during the interviews that shortlisted candidates will attend during the week of 14 June.

The video embedded below was published on the YouTube channel of British comedy singer Thomas Benjamin Wild, Esq., complete with source-language (en_GB) captions that may contain minor transcription errors. The channel does not offer translated subtitles directly but a machine-generated French translation can be displayed using the subtitling options dialogue, as shown in the screengrab at right.

Your tasks are the following:

  1. Listen to the song while watching the source language captions, noting and correcting any transcription errors. You may find it helpful to open the transcription window in YouTube or to download the captions as a text file using a tool such as https://savesubs.com/
  2. Now activate the machine-translated French subtitles and watch the video again. Find as many examples as you can of the following categories of error, explaining in English what the error is in each case and why you think it occurred:
    • translation errors due to incorrect transcription (words incorrect or missing) or incorrect segmentation (e.g. a word or phrase split from the beginning or end of a sentence) of the source text
    • translation errors due to incorrect interpretation of the (correctly transcribed) source text
    • language errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) in the target text
    • inconsistencies and other coherence errors in the target text
  3. Explain (in English) the meaning of each of the following expressions, then offer a French equivalent that would be appropriate in the context of this song:
    • mansplain/mansplaining
    • sweep [someone] off [their] feet
    • letters by [someone’s] name
    • friendzone
    • patronise/patronising
  4. Bonus activity: produce a French version of the lyrics that (a) reflect the tone, register and visual cues of the original performance and (b) are compatible with the rhyme, rhythm and other prosodic features of the original text. How does your rendering of the irony and satire of the original compare to the machine translated subtitles?

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