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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Google Translate

   
Author Topic: Google Translate
Rhaythe
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Can anyone speak to how accurate Google Translate is these days? It seems to be a bit more context-sensitive, and has a nice phonetic "Listen To" feature. But I'll be honest - that thing could be speaking Elvish to me instead of Portuguese and I wouldn't know.

Thoughts?


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Wordcaster
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I use it all the time in my global correspondence. It seems to work well with Portuguese. Good, but not great with German, Korean and Chinese.

If I get an email in a foreign language, I'll copy and paste it into google translate and will understand it easily.

Are you looking to put foreign sentences in a novel? It's good enough for communicating, but not for accurate grammar.


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redux
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Google Translate is decent to get the gist of a translated text but it's always a bit off when it comes to sentence structure (at least the French, German and Spanish). I wouldn't use it for a story if for instance I wanted a character rambling off in a foreign language and I translated it from English. A native speaker would be able to tell that the translation wasn't done well.


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Grayson Morris
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(I'm a professional translator.)

For long blocks of text, Google Translate suffers from what all automated translation suffers from; it gets beaucoup wonky. For short phrases, however, GT often proves better than a translation dictionary in capturing actual, current usage, and I use it every day for this purpose. This is because GT translates by comparing massive numbers of texts that appear in both languages (say, websites or articles) and distilling that down to bite-size elements.

I wrote about it on my translation blog a while back, when it was still in beta, and it's gotten better since then (analyzed more texts, I presume), but it's still wonky on large blocks of text: http://dutchamericantranslations.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/google-translate- very-promising-hilarity/ (Kathleen, please delete if this link goes against guidelines in some way).

Without some knowledge of the target language, however, you will still be at a loss even on short phrases or single words; there are often multiple options, and which one applies depends on context. If you don't speak both languages, you won't know which candidate to pick.

[This message has been edited by Grayson Morris (edited June 01, 2011).]


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MartinV
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It sucks for my language but I think that's not something you need to concern yourself with.
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Rhaythe
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I've used it for quick, short sentences in my WIP. Along the lines of "Hurry up", "Get him", and the like. Anything more than three words long, I type out in English and put a qualifier ("What are we doing?" she said in Portuguese).

I have done some comparisons with websites that offer Portuguese phrases for beginners, and it does seem to line up well.

In any case, it's all a draft, and it's material I plan on researching more thoroughly once I get through the draft stage. Just curious as to what you guys thought, as I use it quite a lot.

[This message has been edited by Rhaythe (edited June 01, 2011).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Grayson Morris, links to blogs, especially reviews of things of interest or use to writers, are always welcome here.

So, thanks for posting it. (One question, though: Maybe I read it too quickly, but did you give the true translation of the test phrase?)


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Unwritten
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I have several Norwegian friends on facebook, and I use it to figure out what they are saying sometimes. Usually it works, but this was the most recent translation:
quote:
Feel that you also, the world 's best small sös

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Grayson Morris
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Kathleen - no, you're right, a correct English equivalent of the Dutch isn't in my post. (The Dutch essentially means "Then the translator no longer has the source language in his head to confuse him.")

MartinV and Unwritten point to one of the limitations of GT: depending on the languages involved, there may not be many online texts for GT to use, and it won't be able to help you reliably, or perhaps at all. (This usually manifests as giving you back the exact word you typed in, which means GT hasn't seen that word yet in the source language.)


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Grayson Morris
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Oh - another potential weak spot for GT: it's based on statistics, so if a bunch of people type in a poor translation for a word, GT will faithfully reproduce that for you.

This is a particular danger for languages spoken in countries where people also routinely learn English, such as the Netherlands; Dutch people with a shaky command of English will translate their own websites (even commercial sites), blog posts, articles and so forth, and introduce errors into GT's text corpora.


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tchernabyelo
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Grayson, that's an absolutely fascinating insight into how Google Translate functions - makes it a much more useful tool to know this kind of thing. Thanks!
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Grayson Morris
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Thank you, tchern! What lovely feedback.
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Pyre Dynasty
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quote:
Can anyone speak to how accurate Google Translate is these days? It seems to be a bit more context-sensitive, and has a nice phonetic "Listen To" feature. But I'll be honest - that thing could be speaking Elvish to me instead of Portuguese and I wouldn't know.
Thoughts?

Into Armenian:
Կարող է որեւէ մեկը խոսում են, թե ինչպես ճշգրիտ Google Թարգմանել է այս օրերին: Կարծես թե պետք է մի քիչ ավելի համատեքստում զգայուն եւ ունի հաճելի հնչյունական "Լսեք» խաղարկային. Բայց ես կասեմ, ազնիվ լինել - որ բան կարող է լինել խոսելիս պստլիկ իմ փոխարեն, պորտուգալերեն, եւ ես չէի ճանաչում.
Մտքեր?

Into Finnish:
Voiko kukaan puhua siitä, miten tarkkoja Google Translate on näinä päivinä, tuntuu olevan hieman tilannekohtainen ja on mukava foneettinen "Listen"-toiminnon, mutta I'll olla rehellinen - että jotain voisi puhua Elvish minulle , portugali, enkä tiedä.
Ajatuksia?

Into Czech:
Může někdo mluvit o tom, jak přesně Google Překladač je v těchto dnech, se zdá být nějaký kontext-citlivé a mají pěkný fonetický 'Poslouchej' funkce, ale budu upřímný - že něco by mohlo mluvit elfského se mi, portugalštině, a já nevím.
Myšlenky?

Into Swahili:
Unaweza mtu majadiliano juu hasa jinsi ya Translate Google siku hizi inaonekana kuwa baadhi ya mazingira nyeti na kuwa na nice aural 'Swahili' kipengele, lakini I'll kuwa waaminifu - kitu ambacho angeweza kusema Elvish kwangu, Kireno, na mimi sijui.
Mawazo?

Back to english:
Can someone talk about exactly how the Google Translate these days seems to be some of the sensitive environment and have a nice aural 'King' feature, but I'll be honest - something that could speak Elvish to me, Portuguese, and I do not know.
Ideas?


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tchernabyelo
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Mmmmm, Armenian....
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Unwritten
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Sounds like the customer service representative I spoke to the other day.

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited June 02, 2011).]


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Rhaythe
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quote:
Բայց ես կասեմ, ազնիվ լինել - որ բան կարող է լինել խոսելիս պստլիկ իմ փոխարեն, պորտուգալերեն, եւ ես չէի ճանաչում.


...And in the darkness, bind them!!

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Robert Nowall
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Sidebar thought: every so often I wind up at some site or other that's in some foreign script---which my computer, or whatever, not being set for it, translates as gibberish. Mostly various Asian / Oriental languages---Russian or Greek usually comes through okay. (There's this text from one site that, I gather, is originally Korean. Except for the fact that my name, in Roman type letters, is right in the middle of it, I haven't a clue about what it says. It's been coming up, on and off, for some twelve years of ego-Googling.)

The Armenian script above...well, I'm not familiar with what alphabet is used, but what's put up there doesn't look familiar to me at all. Some variant on Greek or Russian? Or something used exclusively with Armenian?


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Osiris
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I tried to use Google translate to translate Arabic facebook posts from my relatives in Egypt during the revolution there, and let me tell you, it was complete nonsense. My guess is the closer the language is to English, the better the translation will be.
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Unwritten
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quote:
But I'll be honest - that something might be speaking to tiny for me, Portuguese, and I did not know.

[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited June 03, 2011).]


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