Re: Anaphoric reference (was: Re TON in 1 John 2:13)

From: Larry & Beth Hartman (
Date: Sat May 03 1997 - 17:29:05 EDT

> >I have been working on machine translation of Koine Greek and one
> >of the things I am looking at is anaphoric references. Does anyone
> >know off-hand if the reference is generally the most recent reference
> >which matches number and gender ? This set of verses looks like a good
> >test case when I have code to test. I hope I am correct in that this
> >example is an anaphoric reference, or I will really be embarrassed :)
> "Know offhand?" Or do you mean, "have a hunch?" The latter is more often
> the case with me. I do think your assumption above is normally right, but
> it is the kind of issue that raises doubts in me about machine translation:
> I question whether the machine can handle a *constructio ad sensum* where
> one must understand the context before one can determine how the words are
> to be construed. With respect to anaphoric reference, the nightmare case is
> Aristotle, who so frequently uses a neuter pronoun in a relative clause and
> the reader sometimes has a devil of a time figuring out the antecedent from
> two or more possibilities. But it certainly is easier if there's an
> agreement of number and gender.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University

Just an informational note on machine tranlsation:

        The National Security Agency employs thousands of linguists across many
dozens of languages. They in cooperation with many research facilities
have been working on machine translating and transcription for several
years. There are many many very technical difficulties which must be
overcome before they employ a package operationally, and to my knowledge
they haven't even begun field testing units yet. If a unit were
employed that didn't have a better than 98 percent accuracy, a strong
possibility would exist in creating international incidents based on
mistranslations. If anyone can program a rigid unserving computer to
accurately translate fluctuating human communications with very minimal
errors (even a language as simple as Greek) I would be very impressed
indeed and would like to know about the product. This post is not meant
for dicouragement to those working this field, but just a means of
informing others of the level of difficulty it is to develope such
capabilities. For the developers, I wish you all the success that the
Lord may grant you.

Larry A. Hartman
Defense Language Institute Alumnus
Department of Arabic Studies

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