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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 87: Brown 222
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 202
The translation program was becoming more frustrating.
The newest problem was Derekís realization that he had no way to test it. That is, he neither spoke nor comprehended the indigenous language, so he couldnít speak to the robot in that language and see whether it produced comprehensible English, and similarly he couldnít speak to it in English and tell whether it was producing syntactically proper indig. Quite apart from the fact that since he didnít know the indigenous language he couldnít really create a program to parse its syntax or recognize its vocabulary, there was now this other problem that he could not know if he succeeded. He wound up setting it aside for a few days, not working on it while he focused on other tasks.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, a realization grew. The computer didnít translate between his languages and the indigenous language, even though it was capable of writing and comprehending both. The computer didnít really speak those languages, within itself. It worked fundamentally in assembly language, and while it was to him a foreign assembly language the concept was there, and his laptop undoubtedly had parsed it. When he gave a command to the computer in English or Arabic, the computer translated it from his language to its own assembly language, and when the computer needed to give information to him it similarly translated from its assembly language to the language of his choice. That meant in theory he could create a routine for the main computer that would receive a statement in one language and translate it to assembly, and then translate it from assembly to a different language to output it. It was a slower process, an extra step, but it was efficient.
The question then was whether he could get the robot to do that, to receive an input in one language and give an output of the same information in another. It should be simple enough--but could he test it? Of course he could, sort of. That is, he had instructed that the robots be programmed to understand English and Arabic in addition to the indigenous language, and he could set up the program to translate between the two languages he did understand. If it worked, he could then set it to translate between those languages and indig.
That still left him the problem that he couldnít really know whether the translations to indig were correct, but it gave him the basics of a potentially workable program. He started working on it.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #448: Inventive Versers. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: