Thursday, December 21, 2006

Online Translator Programs Crack Me Up!

Many years ago, there was a concern that computers would take over from humans. It's true that computers have changed life in many ways. Still, there's one area where computer software needs work: web-based translation programs. Why am I bringing this up? Not because I'm picking on those who are trying to succeed at this incredibly difficult task. No, it's just to point out some funny things that happen when you translate pages with Google.

I'm just going to give a few examples, but if you want to laugh, try using Google Translate on any page. (Mind you, it helps if you have at least some knowledge of the language you are translating to get the full humor.)

Here is some odd stuff from the front page of the web site for the Le Monde newspaper. (

In a section of the website focused on the Presidential election coming up in 2007, the headline is: La Campagne Heure par Heure, which means "The campaign hour by hour". Instead, it translates it "The countryside hour by hour". hmmmmm

Some other odd sentences:
Business the Russet-red one: silence, one doubts (huh??)
In Vernon, flamers of five and seven years (arsonists...not flamers )
Mr. the PEN does not see "not a disadvantage" with the pacs, promised with abrogation in the program of the FN. (Yikes!!! Let's start of with the man's name, Mr. LePen. The rest just gives me a headache!)
One more: Raffarin gives her support for Sarkozy for 2007 (In French, it's Raffarin apporte son soutien... how they got that Raffarin is a female, I'll never know, and I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate that!)

Anyway, it's fun to do. Try it! You never know what you'll get. And to those who are working so hard to get these programs working...keep working at it! You've made incredible strides. The problem is that it really takes the human element to really fine tune it. I'm not sure a computer will ever be able to handle the complexities of human language. That's a little comforting, isn't it?

1 comment:

Asia said...

Wow! I was just making these very observations. Good thing I read this before posting my own blog. My Spanish final was a report on golf, so I tried using Spanish pages/GT to get things in context, but you're right. You need to have at least a semi-decent knowledge of both languages if you don't want to look completely incompetent in front of your class.

P.S. Another way to avoid this is to learn how to work the slide controls ahead of time...*sigh*...