On Google Translate

By vijay on January 12, 2011 — 1 min read

Recently I’ve been pondering about the languages and translation etc. I’ve always been thinking that using efficient and beautiful language constructs is esoteric. As result, I’m very skeptical about any machine or program (in my lifetime at least) produce anything even remotely equal to a human mind when translating something from one language to the other.

Google Translate looks like it is pushing the boundaries, but there are still some subtleties missing when it comes to translation of content from one language to the other. Because it is so difficult to account for the colloquialness and cultural aspects of the language which affect the usage of the words and formation of sentences. There are some really funny examples when Google Translate fails – this one is my favorite.

Google recently announced a new version of the translate tool for Android, which will convert the conversations.

Marshall Kirkpatrick (of ReadWriteWeb) thinks that it looks like a Gimmick and doesn’t really work well in the real world language translation:

Anyone who has used Google Translate in text form knows how awkward it can be. Do you know any Spanish speakers who can’t speak better English than Google Translate likely could? If so, do you really want to pull out your expensive smart phone and start waggling it in their faces? ReadWriteWeb writer Curt Hopkins, who translates poetry, says of Android Translate, “this sort of tool works best for people who’ve studied a language already and are using it as a dictionary or refresher.”

Language, context, culture, class, technology – all of these present huge challenges. Language translation is an art. Approaching it like science sounds like a recipe for poor communication.

Let us see how far the technology takes us.

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