Proposal to produce a bilingual record of the Welsh assembly's debates via Google Translate has been branded "ridiculous" by translators

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:31
Member (2008)
French to English
Going in circles? Jul 27, 2011

Google themselves say that one of their main sources of bilingual texts for statistical analysis for their translation engine is the bilingual proceedings of various assemblies whose proceedings are translated into two or more languages. Presumably a significant portion of Google Translate's Welsh-English reference texts probably come from the same assembly that is now considering using Google Translate as their translation engine. Is this perhaps a bit circuitous?

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Eliza Wright
United States
Local time: 17:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Experiment Jul 27, 2011

Well, we could experiment with it. I don't speak Welsh, though. If I use Google to translate something to English or to Spanish for me, it seems to take just as long to rewrite/edit and ensure quality. Often what comes out isn't intelligible and it's funny to try and follow the machine translation "thought" process. I don't see how this is going to save a great deal of time or money.

I remember a few years ago, I worked at an office where our IT department bought some sort of translation tool. Instead of having things translated, people would generate translations using this software. I remember showing our director a translation of something into English via this software. Her reaction was, "I see your point."


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Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:31
Chinese to English
+ ...
Agreed – this is ridiculous Jul 27, 2011

Like Eliza I don’t speak Welsh, but if the quality is anything like Google’s translations from English to Chinese or vice versa, it will take more time to proofread the translations than to do it by hand in the first place. It’d be a complete waste of time.

But I see that governments don’t feel the same way, do they? My city is using Google Translate for its web site too.


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 01:31
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Jul 27, 2011

As far as I understand it, Google translate relies on cross-referencing existing translations, collocating words etc. It needs a large body of material to come close to being a reliable tool.

Welsh is not widely spoken, so Google has very little to go on. Welsh has dialects which will confuse Google ("now" is "nawr" in the south, but "rwan" in the north). Welsh uses a lot of abbreviations and contractions, which will confuse Google even more. Welsh 'mutates' the initial letter of many nouns, so "Wales" can be "Cymru", "Gymru", "Chymru" or "Nghymru" according to its role in the sentence - a nightmare for Google translate.

Google is bad enough for EngGreek, but I imagine it would be pretty useless for WelshEnglish.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Jul 28, 2011

Dave Bindon wrote:
Welsh is not widely spoken, so Google has very little to go on. Welsh has dialects ... a nightmare for Google translate.
Google is bad enough for EngGreek, but I imagine it would be pretty useless for WelshEnglish.


The very notion that Google translate or a similar SW could do this (largely pointless IMO) job shows up the proposers' ignorance of how these things, and languages, work.
I'd go even further and say that most similar political decisions regarding what are after all "minority" languages in the developed world, (e. g. Canada, Scotland, Catalonia, Euskadi.... etc) are unfairly skewed in favour of what is perceived as the underdog. A waste of taxpayer's time and money. By all means have these things, but let the revisionists fund them themselves.


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 01:31
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Minority? Jul 28, 2011

There are parts of Wales where Welsh is not a minority language. On the contrary, it is the first language of the majority of people in some areas, with English being taught in school as a foreign language. The school I went to was bilingual because the town's demographics had been altered by the existence of an Airforce Base nearby. The school I should have gone to, nearer home, taught exclusively in Welsh.

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Oriol Vives  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:31
Member (2009)
English to Catalan
+ ...
Excuse me? Jul 30, 2011

neilmac wrote:

I'd go even further and say that most similar political decisions regarding what are after all "minority" languages in the developed world, (e. g. Canada, Scotland, Catalonia, Euskadi.... etc) are unfairly skewed in favour of what is perceived as the underdog. A waste of taxpayer's time and money. By all means have these things, but let the revisionists fund them themselves.


With "unfairly skewed" political decisions you are referring to the prohibition and supression of, in example, the Catalan language in school and TV in Valencia and Mallorca by the new autonomical governments? Or the Catalan-Valencian TV blockage that has been going on for years, just as as a little example on how minorized languages get it so much?

The topic is Welsh- so don't waste our time and money and keep your deviated ideas to yourself.

[Edited at 2011-07-30 06:58 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:31
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It's a serious problem, but Google Translate is not the answer. Jul 30, 2011

It would be a tragedy if these living languages with unique cultures were to be lost, however much they may be in the minority. As a native speaker of the world's favourite lingua franca, I am very much in favour of keeping other people's languages alive.

But in this day and age, it costs more and more. I love Welsh, becasue I know and love several speakers of Welsh, although I only understand a handful of words.
_______________

Somewhat OT, but as a parallel, only yesterday I was discussing Faroese with a Dutch friend who lives in Flanders... starting with a colourful character we both know, who comes from the Faroes. I was recently asked to translate a text into Faroese as well as English, under the assumption that I could more or less set my Danish spell checker to do it!

I wish I could! With my knowledge of Danish and my friend's knowldege of Dutch, plus German and general interest in Germanic languages... We can work out the gist of written Faroese. But Google translate would make a complete hash of the extra letters of the alphabet. (Danish has different ones, and Faroese has a couple more!) Then the syntax and vocabulary would throw it off too, and the result would be gibberish.

We could hear the music of the spoken language and guess at the gist, as I said, enough to appreciate that it is really worth the effort of learning. Like the Welsh, the Faroese are an independent nation with their own culture, national assembly and way of life, even if the population is only 48,000.
______________

If the Welsh Assembly's debates must be made available to a wider public in the name of democracy, then fine. Translation memories may prove useful over time, but I think Google Translate will be more or less useless.


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Proposal to produce a bilingual record of the Welsh assembly's debates via Google Translate has been branded "ridiculous" by translators

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