Posted by: barrmar on Oct 11, 2010
I have been using Google Translate for a number of years.
On the one hand, the program is useful! It translates over 50 languages to over 50 languages. If the language of your choice is on the list, then Google Translate will translate to and from that language.
On the other hand, Google Translate does not have a human brain! It has not quite mastered the art of transforming the grammar of one language into correct grammar in another.
Google translate can be opened as a separate web page. Ig you are using the Chrome browser, then a caption appears on the top: This page is in Arabic. Translate? As you move the mouse over the translated text, a floating box displays the original language text.
The facility is quite useful. I could use the facility to improve my Afrikaans!
Afrikaans is one of the newer additions to the facility. Consider this passage by Syllable's Mom:
Sowaar, Sondagaand bel hy weer vir Jorsie. Hy het nou gesit en dink: hy gaan terugtrek in die huis in en dan sal hy 'n bydrae maak tot die huishouding en Jorsie moet bietjie voelers uitsteek om te hoor hoe sal ouma oor die blink idee voel. Nee, sê Jorsie, hy steek niks uit nie. Hy weet wat hy weet en hy weet dit sal nie uitwerk nie.
It translates as follows:
In fact, Sunday night call, he again Jorsie. He now sat thinking, he would withdraw into the house and then he will make a contribution to the household and Jorsie be little feelers projecting to hear how shall grandmother on the bright idea feel. No, says Jorsie, he stretched out anything. He knows what he knows and he knows it will not work out.
The translator is clever enough to eliminate the Afrikaans double negative in the last sentence, but "how shall grandmother on the bright idea feel" is just not right!
Now for some Hebrew (from Israeli Newspaper Haaretz) - Hebrew text disappears here - translates to:
Since opened a restaurant mass, more than five years ago, the restaurant won its head chef Jerusalem, Aviv Moshe, a lot of attention
In both cases, you can at least understand the translated text. But just wait until we start with less formal language and with slang. The result is English words interspersed with foreign words. Sometimes you can rearrange the words yourself, but there are times when the translated text just makes no sense at all!
The translations are not perfect. In many cases, they are far from perfect. But it can be done! The translations are better than they were in the early days of the Internet. But not much more than 20 years ago, a foreign article was a foreign article and if you didn't know the language - well, you just read something else.