Better translations with Google Translate
One way to get a good laugh is to translate a text using Google Translate
. Lots of
sentences will be hilariously nonsensical or may even mean the exact
opposite. The tool can save the day anyway, but you wouldn't dare
use it to translate a text towards a language that you don't know,
say to send it to somebody.
There is yet a way to get usable translations, by verifying that the
translation translates back correctly to a language that you know.
You need to adapt the text, till the reverse translation is correct.
This most often implies to write short and explicit sentences.
Say you would like to write a text in Arabic, to ask for the list of
ingredients for a recipe published in the number four of a magazine.
In this first attempt, I wrote the demand in French:
I don't speak nor read Arabic. I've no clue whether the translation
is valid. But I can open another tab in my browser, copy and paste
the Arabic translation and get it to be translated in English:
The translation in English is not correct. This doesn't prove that
the translation in Arabic is erroneous... but the chances are high.
I can rewrite the text in French:
Till I get a correct text in English:
There is no proof that the text in Arabic is now correct and
respectful. But the chances are higher.
A friend who does read and speak Arabic, told me that a translation
that I showed him is correct but sounds odd, because it uses scholar
Arabic yet some sentences are childish. Anyway it was correct. In
the example above, the last translation is still not correct but it
is understandable. Some parts of it were better in the first
attempt. The greeting is polite but it will sound odd to many Arabs.
To maximize your chances, use short and explicit sentences. But not
too short ones, because the translation engine uses hints that it
finds inside the sentences, to get a context to better choose the
adequate translation for difficult words. Also, you can hoover the
mouse on the translation and click on parts of it to get hints and
suggestions. Learn to use the features proposed by the engine.
I could have started from English and
then translate back to English. When you translate back to the same
language, the chances are higher that an error in the translations
translates back to a correct sentence and goes unnoticed.
Once a text has been created that translates amongst a few
languages, it will better translate to any language. But never
Google Translate should offer this possibility; to have three or
more fields for automatic successive translations. This would also
improve the ability of the translation engine to learn.
Eric Brasseur - October