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"the debugger doesn't tell me anything because this code compiles just fine" - random QA comment
"Facebook is where you tell lies to your friends. Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers." - chriselst
"I don't drink any more... then again, I don't drink any less." - Mike Mullikins uncle
It's pretty damn good these days - getting to the point where you don't need to learn another language at all!
"I have no idea what I did, but I'm taking full credit for it." - ThisOldTony
"Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified as a super power" - Random T-shirt
AntiTwitter: @DalekDave is now a follower!
It works the same way it can tell English, Spanish, and German apart even though we all use the same alphabet. Only one language has all the input words being in the dictionary.
Did you ever see history portrayed as an old man with a wise brow and pulseless heart, weighing all things in the balance of reason?
Is not rather the genius of history like an eternal, imploring maiden, full of fire, with a burning heart and flaming soul, humanly warm and humanly beautiful?
Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.
-- Sarah Hoyt
Last Christmas, as a quiz round, I used Google Translate to take lines from Christmas songs, translate them into Chinese then back again and asked the quizzers to guess the song.
Such gems as
"Oh, what's the fun of cycling? A horse drives a sled."
which was originally ...
"Oh, what fun it is to ride In a one horse open sleigh"
My husband is an interpreter and translator for Mixtec, a language spoken by certain indigenous people from Mexico. He often has to translate government documents to Mixtec, which is not a "western language" in the linguistic sense of it despite being from the western hemisphere.
"The town elder called 'county commissioner' must..."
And that's one of the easier ones. It's just silly. The way you have to refer to government officials is "town elders"
And furthermore, the language is really verb heavy and noun sparse. For example, they do not have a word for a duffle bag vs a backpack vs a purse. It's all in how you carry something that determines what it is.
Also they have pronouns for fruit and round things, and for some reason dishwashing detergent is a "round thing"
Google does not have a mixtec translator. My husband is one of a handful of non-native speakers in the entire world so it's not likely to have one soon either, but if it did I would totally try Mixtec and back
I asked my husband about it. He says there is a plant from where they come from they would grind up and use as soap, and the little plant pods are round. It carried from there. Liquid detergent however, is considered a liquid.
Even though Google Translate may be good at constructing grammatically correct phrases in English,
translating to other languages than English is clearly inferior.
Translating from one non-English language to another non-English language may be just crazy. It seems to translate from the source language, possibly making a lot of misunderstandings, to English, and then, possibly running into ambiguities in the English language, translating the it from there to the destination language.
To illustrate by a classic example (this one has been corrected now): Norwegian and Swedish are very close languages; we usually understand each other without any 'translation'. But earlier, Norwegian 'postoppkrav' was translated to Swedish 'TORSK', which makes no sense at all. It went this way: 'postoppkrav' is Norwegian for 'Charge on delivery', so it was translated to English 'COD'. Then this was interpreted, not as the abbreviation, but referring to codfish, which in Swedish is 'torsk'. Since the English input was in uppercase, the Swedish translation was uppercased, too.
I receive a lot of spam mail, lots of it from Asian or East European sources, that has made a clumsy attempt to market themselves by translating to Norwegian. Most of the subject lines (I rarely go beyond that) make no sense at all in Norwegian, unless I try to back-translate it to English. Then it suddenly makes sense, when I consider all the alternate meanings of the English words!
When I need to access a text in a language I do not master, I have given up translating it to Norwegian - it goes to English, and usually makes sense. Nevertheless, I often make a final check asking for the Norwegian version, and get something that may be total gibberish. At least in part.
So you English (only) speakers: Continue non-learning other languages, if that is your preference. But if you write something aimed at non-native English speakers, please do not use Google Translate to send away something in a language you do not master! If you cannot afford to have it properly translated (or at least quality checked) by someone who fully masters the target language, rather send your text in English, untranslated!
It's standard that translation should be done by someone who is as good as a native speaker in the target language. I read Haruki Murikami, but despite the fact that he spent time at US universities, his work is translated from Japanese to English by others.