Tobold's Blog
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Adventures with Google Translate

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am looking for a way to mark status effects on miniatures during Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition battles. Lots of cheap gaming supply can be found in regular hardware stores. So I thought of using the kind of thin disks with a hole in the middle used to put under a screw to distribute load. I knew the German word for it, "Unterlegscheibe" (German is a very precise language). But that wouldn't help me a lot in a Belgian hardware store, so I used Google Translate to find the translation into Dutch. Big surprise: Google Translate translates the word from German to Dutch as "wasmachine". Now I don't speak much Dutch, but that is clearly a washing machine, and not the piece I want. How can Google Translate be so wrong?

Well, after experimenting a bit, the truth about how Google Translate works dawned on me. Google Translate does not in fact translate from German to Dutch. It translates from German to English, and then from English to Dutch. And the English word for "Unterlegscheibe" is "washer". Which then gets interpreted as washing machine in the translation to Dutch. Doh!

If you go to big box DIY stores in Belgium, such as Hubo or Gamma, you cannot miss the washers in the hardware section. They are stocked with the machine screws.

I'm German living in Belgium and I'm afraid I don't know the Flemish term for a washer either. ;-]
In Holland a lot of people use the english terms (not only for this item btw, we somehow tend to prefer using english terms for a lot of things..) washer or spacer..If i had to come up with a dutch equivalent is would be sluitring or opvulring..
I can't help you with Dutch but here is an extreme google translating video:
extreme Google translating:
If it is still relevant, the dutch word would be 'sluitring' or informal 'rondel'. The second will probably work best in Belgium.
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Back when I was toying with running D&D4, I too was looking for some way to mark status/conditions on the minis.

Fabric and sewing stories sell these little plastic rings, maybe 1 cm in diameter. They're white, and have a matte finish that takes paint reasonably well. Zip a bunch off in different colors and you can hang them off the weapon, arm, head or whatever of the mini.

There's also a set of professionally-printed chits you can use. I think WotC made them, but it could have been some third party.
There's also a set of professionally-printed chits you can use. I think WotC made them, but it could have been some third party.

Well, there are the Litko acrylic status tokens, if that is what you were thinking of.

I found the washers in the hardware store, but the plastic ones came only in one color, and the maximum hole size was 8 mm, which I found a bit too small to hang them as a ring around a miniature's neck.

But I found something much better: Gaskets / seals. They had 1" outer diameter, 7/8th" inner diameter gaskets in 4 different colors. Perfect! And a lot cheaper than those acrylic tokens.
P.S. I know that some people use bottle rings, the little plastic ring that breaks off when you open a bottle of coke. But I preferred closed rings, and I don't drink all that much soda.
If you just enter 'washer' into Google Translate and have it translate English to Dutch, you'll get 'wasmachine' in the main translation result, but a dictionary-like entry listing a second meaning of 'sluitring' as well.

I've found this functionality very useful.
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