Off topic: Machine translation, again
Thread poster: NancyLynn

Local time: 12:00
Member (2002)
French to English
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Moderator of this forum
Mar 10, 2006

Tooling round the Net, I came across an interesting Government of Canada site comparing a variety of machine translation programs:

The scores range from 1 to 5. The higher the score is, the less understandable the text is.

Phase II - Summary (French)
Service Name Average Comprehension 4.5 2.9 5.0 4.7 3.4 2.5 3.3 3.7

Here is an example of a 4.7-rated text:
Les cresson développé près de Canada Première Peupler êtes respecter et admiré partout dans les mondial pour à eux séance et beauté. Ça exposition vitrine quelques-unes de l'amende tranche dans les Canadien Musée de Civilisation retrait et souligner les créatrice et talent de Indienne et Inuit canot - entrepreneurs.

Don't worry if you don't read French, those of us who do can't understand it either

Edit: Here's the comprehension legend:
Comprehension by a Unilingual Person (French)

1. The unilingual person understood completely.
2. The unilingual person understood something that resembled the message, but with slight discrepancies.
3. The unilingual person understood the main message.
4. The unilingual person understood what the text referred to, but nothing more.
5. The unilingual person did not understand at all.

[Edited at 2006-03-10 23:30]

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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 17:00
German to English
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How confidence inspiring Mar 10, 2006

I have taken note of the owners of a certain 4.5-rated free translation service. Revealing, isn't it?

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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:00
German to English
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Incomprehensibility is not the worst fault an MT system can have.... Mar 10, 2006

Far worse are those which produce perfectly comprehensible, but dead wrong, translations.

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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:00
German to English
+ ...
Cresson=watercraft? Mar 10, 2006

It looks as though the program only looks at the first seven letters, and therefore was unable to distinguish "watercraft" from "watercress"!

My mother once got a letter from a Spanish relative who does not speak English, and so she had it translated by one of these overpriced free translation services. This one ignores diacritical marks, and so translated "40 años" as "40 anuses".

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:00
Italian to English
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babelfish... Mar 15, 2006

... renders a nice simple Italian sentence like "voi fate la spesa" (you do the shopping) as "you fairies the expense".

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Machine translation, again

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