How Google Translate works

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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:51
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
How Google Translate Does Not Work Sep 13, 2011

I guess one should write an article titled above.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:51
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
False! Sep 13, 2011

"It uses vast computing power to scour the internet in the blink of an eye, looking for the expression in some text that exists alongside its paired translation."

This statement is not true: Google Translate scours Google's databases, not the Internet. Not quite the same.


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Member (2008)
Italian to English
See this other thread Sep 13, 2011

Alas, discussion threads now vanish so quickly that you probably missed this one from earlier today:

[Edited at 2011-09-13 20:20 GMT]


Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
French to English
+ ...
Not sure why this is news... Sep 14, 2011

I'm guessing the Indie is having a slow news day.

Sorry, I think I've probably said this before here, but if you're interested in how Google Translate (and statistical machine translation generally) works, then there are publications on this topic, such as:

Koehn, P. (2010), "Statistical Machine Translation"
Chapter on Machine Translation in Russel & Norvig, "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach"

Peter Norvig, second author of the last work mentioned, is actually research director at Google; there is also at least one published video of him (sorry, don't have address off hand) specifically explaining the basics of how Google Translate works. So you can get an overview "from the horse's mouth".

I also give a brief overview in one of my own articles here: though how the system works wasn't the primary focus of the study.

I also like to point people in the direction of the scary, "subtle" translation errors that MT can make, such as this: (if people have other examples to share, that would also be interesting).


Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:51
Member (2010)
Greek to English
It's all Greek to Google Sep 14, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:

(if people have other examples to share, that would also be interesting).

There's a great example that has been well-known to Greek speakers for quite some time. In a speech about the economy, Prime Minister Papandreou announced, "Υπάρχουν χρήματα" (there is money). GT translates that much less optimistically: "No money"!


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