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Yet another mainstream article on how great Google Translate is !
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Sep 13, 2011

http://tinyurl.com/6dvdtey

You can add your own comments on that website. The voice of the translator needs to be heard !


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:49
Chinese to English
Thanks, Tom Sep 13, 2011

Good catch.

Here's paragraph 1 of the article after two runs through the Google washing machine.

Using software originally developed in the 1980s by researchers from IBM, Google has created a machine translation tool that is unlike any other. It is not based on assumptions intellectuals first machine translation efforts - it is not only designed an algorithm to extract the meaning of an expression of its syntax and vocabulary.

The meaning's been washed clean away!


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Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
And here is the subtitle at the top Sep 13, 2011

ORIGINAL: The web giant's translation service might serve up the odd batch of nonsense, but it's still one of the smartest communication tools of all time, as David Bellos explains

ENG > JAP > ENG: Translation of the giants of the Web, you may be able to view the odd batch of nonsense, it seems to describe David Bellos is a communication tool among the smartest of all time still one

ENG>LATIN>ENG: Transfer function of the text may serve until the giant's odd batch of nonsense to say, but it's also the smartest of all of the instruments of communication, as David explains War

Serves him well!


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Hebrew to English
Gobsmacked... Sep 13, 2011

What utter drivel.

I think Mr Bellos must be getting commission from Google or something.
It's an unbelievably biased article. He spends more than half of it extolling the virtues of GT, and then glosses over any faults, claiming the mistakes of GT are "less dangerous" than those of human translators. What planet is this guy on?
And who knew that translators just "behave like GT every day"?

The main thrust of his argument is that everything that is said, has been said countless times before and therefore translation is just a matter of finding instances of when it has been said before....yeah right.
No mention whatsoever of abbreviations, acronyms, names, slang, neologisms....
No mention of more divergent language pairs where the hugely divergent grammar helps with the jibberish it spews out.....
No mention of register or pragmatic considerations.......
...or anything of the kind where GT is about as useful and productive as nailing jelly to the ceiling.

I think anyone who has been working in translation for more than 5 minutes KNOWS that trick of the job is translating stuff that HASN'T been said a bazillion times before....

The difference is that when GT comes across something it doesn't recognise it gives you trash - not even an intelligent guess - just utter tripe.
Whereas a human translator has experience and skills (one would hope) to remedy the gap in knowledge and provide a meaningful translation.

David Bellos....stick to biographies.

And to think, I was going to buy that book!

[Edited at 2011-09-13 09:56 GMT]


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SBlack
French to English
+ ...
Ci sentiamo Sep 13, 2011

A friend "Google Translating" her way through an online courtship a few years back was puzzled by her flame's sign-off, "we feel each other", until an Italian-speaking friend realised the mixup. (GT still gives a completely unhelpful "we feel" for "ci sentiamo".)

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Tony Blair (I know. Sorry) Sep 13, 2011

SBlack wrote:

A friend "Google Translating" her way through an online courtship a few years back was puzzled by her flame's sign-off, "we feel each other", until an Italian-speaking friend realised the mixup. (GT still gives a completely unhelpful "we feel" for "ci sentiamo".)


Apparently Tony Blair thought he could speak French and was a great admirer of Lionel Jospin, of whom he was also envious.

On meeting Jospin for the first time, he is reported to have said "M. Jospin, j'ai toujours eu envie de Vous".

[Edited at 2011-09-13 10:31 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Funniest comment so far Sep 13, 2011

The funniest comment so far made to that article is:

"Google like human translators? I bet Google doesn't sit around in its underpants at home when it does its translation."



[Edited at 2011-09-13 11:32 GMT]


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Paolo Troiani  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:49
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
GT : professional translator = microwave oven : 5 stars restaurant Sep 13, 2011

That is my theorem about GT.
Tons of demonstrations are available, if requested


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:49
English to Croatian
+ ...
"smartest communication tool of all times" Sep 13, 2011

You can't help loving these sensationalist titles.

... it's so smart it can't go accurately further than simple short phrases or common words. As smart as a three-year old child, congrats!

[Edited at 2011-09-13 10:42 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:49
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I love the picture, too Sep 14, 2011

Two interpreters in a conference interpreting booth...

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Also here Sep 14, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
http://tinyurl.com/6dvdtey


This is the same article that is being discussed here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_news/207538-how_google_translate_works.html


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Threads disappearing Sep 14, 2011

Samuel- that happens because threads disappear so quickly that Prozians don't realise the discussion was already happening.

Currently we only get 2 pages of previous threads. Not enough. THere have been various discussions complaining about this...

[Edited at 2011-09-14 08:15 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
David does not show favouritism Sep 14, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
Not enough. THere have been various discussions complaining about this...


I don't quite understand why so many translators here believe that Mr Bellos shows favouritism towards Google Translate. Mr Bellos' text here is not intended to take sides, but to discuss the subject matter in a (hopefully) interesting way. It is up to the reader to draw conclusions about the subject from what is written.

So far, I have found only one mistake in Mr Bellos' text, namely his idea that GT scans bilingual corpuses in real time, instead of creating an index of sorts. Other than that, he gives kudoz where it is due.

Bad things about GT that he says, among other things, include:
* GT would not work if it wasn't for human translators
* GT repeats errors made by humans (because it doesn't realise that they are errors)
* GT scans its own translations, thus reinforcing errors made by it
* If many people make a certain mistake, GT will assume that it is correct
* GT is often forced to use intermediary languages

I like this quote from the article:
...GT is not a translation device. It's just a trick performed by an electronic bulldozer...

I disagree with his statement that one can generally spot an error in a GT translation, unless he is referring to a language combination in which most GT translations are syntactically and grammatically correct (not the case in my languages, so that it is not possible to *spot* a poor GT translation from a good one in my language).

His argument about how translators "think ahead" and use their brain's statistical capabilities to come up with probable translations that simply repeated phrases from long years of experience is an interesting argument, but I think he stretches it a bit -- translators who slog ahead in semi-automated fashion still deal with meaning. Still, he has a point. As a translator who had worked in a fast-paced impossible-deadline type of environment with same-type-everyday text (daily newspaper) I have experience about how one can go into automatic mode while translating, so much so that meaning starts to shift to the background. So, I recognise what he's talking about, but I don't think it applies to GT.




[Edited at 2011-09-14 08:38 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
He doesn't really say that, does he? Sep 14, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:
The main thrust of his argument is that everything that is said, has been said countless times before and therefore translation is just a matter of finding instances of when it has been said before....yeah right.


No, he's not saying that at all (can you tell me which paragraphs lead you to this conclusion?).

What he does say is that Google is based on the idea that that "everything that is said, has been said countless times before and therefore translation is just a matter of finding...", and although he makes a few comments about the idea (some positive, some negative), he doesn't appear to support it.

His positive comments about this idea should be read in the context of what he says about the idea from language philosophers that statistics can't be applied to language. He says GT is also a splendidly cheeky response to one of the great myths of modern language studies. It was claimed, and for decades it was barely disputed, that what was so special about a natural language was that its underlying structure allowed an infinite number of different sentences to be generated by a finite set of words and rules. His postive comment about GT, therefore, is simply that if you can't use statistics to produce meaningful text, then how do you account for the fact that GT produces not utter drivel but something that is (considering it is just a trick) not bad?

No mention whatsoever of abbreviations, acronyms, names, slang, neologisms.... No mention of more divergent language pairs where the hugely divergent grammar helps with the jibberish it spews out..... No mention of register or pragmatic considerations....... ...or anything of the kind where GT is about as useful and productive as nailing jelly to the ceiling.


I don't think one should call any article about GT biased towards GT simply because it lacks strong criticism against GT. Mr Bellos' text is meant as interesting reading that touches several relevant points without attempting to cover all angles and all arguments, and I'm quite happy with that.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:49
Hebrew to English
Don't particularly want to get drawn into an argument about it but... Sep 14, 2011

I disagree.


And as for the bits you wanted me to quote:
"Google Translate (GT) takes it as something that has probably been said before. "
..which then goes on to talk about corpus and matches, reinforcing this statement...

and then again at the end:
"GT deals with translation on the basis not that every sentence is different, but that anything submitted to it has probably been said before. Whatever a language may be in principle, in practice it is used most commonly to say the same things over and over again."

So, given these two quotes, which placed at the beginning and end of the article, kind of "frame" the entire article, I don't think it was unreasonable of me to say that this is an important theme of the article.

Naturally, I agree with the notion. A lot of language is repetition. My point was that
a) not all language is purely repetition (I thought behaviourist theories went out of fashion long ago...)
b) the article doesn't seem to give equal weight to both sides, by far....

...I would welcome a glowing review of Google translate, as long as it also highlighted its basic flaws too rather than gloss over them and hide behind philosophical debates. (which are all a bit wishy-washy to me - my WORST semester at Uni was studying Frege! - ugh).

I accept your interpretation of the article, mine is just somewhat different.

In my opinion, Google translate is nothing more than a glorified dictionary. And not a particularly good one.
In my language pair, it's atrocious.
For example:
תכננתי ללכת אל חברי, ברם לבסוף לא עשיתי זאת.
GT says: I planned to go to the members, but finally did it.
The actual translation is:
I planned to go to my friend's, but I didn't in the end.
Even in such a short sentence, there's a fundamental error of translating a negative clause as a positive one - despite the presence of a contrastive conjunction AND a negative particle. (How many hints does it need? Bulldozer or not, it's not rocket science).


But even with something like :
עוד לא
(Not yet)
Google translate seems to think "Not" is a good translation.

As Tom in London said, it can't even get the basics right.

I just don't believe in heaping praise on something that only kind-of works. You wouldn't do it with your TV or microwave, you'd be complaining to customer services.

In truth you could probably write a book with all the flaws and loopholes of Google translate, so I just didn't see why these were conspicuously absent in the article (unless I was reading some promotional material produced by Google themselves - which this article felt like).

The article just didn't seem to scream impartiality to me. That's all.


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Yet another mainstream article on how great Google Translate is !

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