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Machine Translation: Babylon, Google Translate, Bing, etc.

 
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:41 am    Post subject: Machine Translation: Babylon, Google Translate, Bing, etc. Reply with quote

Any thoughts, experience with machine translation?

I've used Google Translate with an adult class as it would provide instant translations of words they didn't know and rank definitions by frequency use.

Here's Wikipedia's entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_machine_translation_applications
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2602
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are some threads by Victor Mair over on Language Log that discuss (among other things) translating back and forth between Chinese and English using Google Translate. There might also be something on Chinese-forums.com .
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the leads, fluffyhamster. After reading Victor's blogpost, I tried it myself on the web-based translators--not much of a difference in terms of accuracy. :

Quote:
Original text:
You are on one side of a large, deep chasm. A heavy white mist rising up from below obscures all view of the far side. A southwest path leads away from the chasm into a winding corridor.


Google Translate (from English to Chinese then back to English):
Quote:
You are a large, deep side of the divide. A heavy white mist rose from below to cover all the distant view. The gap caused by the southwest path, walking into a winding corridor.


Bing Translate:
Quote:
You are one side of the disagreement of a large, impressive. Rising from below for all heavy white fog obscures the other side's views. Path away from the Gulf to the winding of the Southwest corridor.


Yahoo's Babelfish:
Quote:
You are in big, deep canyon one side. The rise obstructs the dark far side from the following heavy white mist all views. The southwest path leads to be far away from the canyon to enter circles the corridor.


Systran:
You are is at big, deep canyon one side. The rise obstructs dark far side all views from the following heavy white mist. The southwest path leads to be far away from the canyon to enter to circle the corridor.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As long as we're comparing machine translation between Chinese and English, might as well include Baidu Translate::
Quote:
You are on one side of a large canyon. A heavy white smoke rising from below to cover all the far side view. Southwest road leads from the gap into the cloister.


http://fanyi.baidu.com/translate
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Jbhughes



Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 254

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I teach Vietnamese students and prepare translations for certain scenarios using Tra tu, an Eng-Viet and Viet-Eng online dictionary (actually there are other languages on there, too). It seems to have more examples and be more accurate than google translate and the other popular dictionary Vdict. I usually translate the results back into English to find the best fit and sometimes throw out translations if there doesn't seem to be a decent match. I check translations with VN staff or teachers when I'm unsure.

Sometimes I've used google translate during my daily life as well as a dictionary on my phone. I've had quite entertaining conversations with people using google translate in shops (often when I don't want them to realise that I can actually speak VNese) and in places where I don't know any of the vocabulary (getting my bike repaired, for example). The times when I've used google translate are usually funny because it requires one's knowledge of 'Vietglish' to understand the translations.

W.r.t to the scenarios where I will translate words, I like to translate some of the tougher grammatical terms or headings when the sts are learning grammar, as I feel this focuses the sts more on the grammar itself, rather than the distractions of some word that they will likely never use in conversation. An example of which would be when teaching the use of 'be+going+to' for future intentions, I would translate 'intention'.

What I like about the use of occasional translation is the speed and, meanings of Vietnamese words and English words withstanding, the lack of ambiguity. I tend to steer clear of translating target language or anything where the meaning can be reliably extrapolated from a picture, action, sound or from context. This is all tempered by the level of the sts and their listening abilities.

I do find that translation can be a double-edged sword and I'm careful to encourage the sts to talk to me in English. One of the main problems I face is where sts have had all of their language instruction in L1 and even the tiniest snippet of L2 has been gobbled up and translated into L1. Certainly I don't want to exasperate the problem!

Here's how google translate handles VNese:
Quote:
You are on one side of a large chasm, deep. A heavy white mist rose up from below obscures all other parties. A road leading southwest from the abyss into a winding corridor. (sic:P)
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