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back to article Chocolate Factory hits the Translate button on Google+

Google+ just got ever so slightly more user-friendly for those following accounts which tend to post or comment in languages which the user doesn't understand, after adding a one-click translate function. Up until now, users of the Chocolate Factory’s social platform were forced to cut and paste any such text into Google …

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my hovercraft is full of eels

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mellbimbók felrobban örömében ??

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Ah, that is the correct response. Good afternoon, Agent Peekaboo.

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Windows

Damn. Wet myself again! (My nipples exploded with delight!)

As bad as: Minun ilmatyynyalus on täynnä ankeriaita...

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To be fair...

Google translate is pretty damn impressive. Yes, it's not a perfect translation, but you can usually get the gist. The days of 'Out of sight, out of mind' = 'Blind idiot' are long gone. And if you are going to use it to do a quick translation of something you're writing, then you can use short clear phrases which often do come out 100%.

When you stop and think what it's doing to translate an entire webpage in a second my mind does boggle slightly. Tie it in to speech recognition/synthesis and the babelfish will be with us very soon.

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Re: To be fair...

At least on Android, the Google Translate app includes speech recognition/synthesis.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: To be fair...

Hmm, BabelFish (the website) was with us before Google existed (just, probably) but of course has been pushed out of the public mind by "google translate". I know what you mean though (by THE Babel Fish that is).

I love reading posts on a certain game forum put through it, can be quite hilarious.

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Re: To be fair...

Almost, but badly 'almost'.

Often, it completely negates the sentence I need - (OK, usually legal - as in letters from the bay leaves), or even adding a fullstop to the end of a sentence completely changes it. That's crucial!

Local town -Kempele- gets translated (En-Fi) to Ghaziabad, unless the 'K' is lower case....Oulu is Southampton in some phrases, Oulu in others.

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Re: To be fair...

If you're trying to translate something that's going into legal documents, pony up for a real translator. Most likely you'll need one specialized in law, since it's rarely enough to be fluent in both languages. Complaining that Google Translate can't get that perfect is like saying that the automobile is a crap invention because it doesn't exhaust rainbows, burn half a ml per 100k, and get to Mars same day.

Fundamentally what Google Translate does, and its ability to go beyond just word-by-word translation to make at least generally plausible translations between drastically different grammars while dealing with idioms and other complexities, is simply jaw dropping. It's far from perfect, and we're probably well into diminishing returns so perfect may be a very long way off, but even with its very well known limitations it's an extremely impressive tool. I don't understand why people can't just sometimes appreciate it for what it is and for the level of communication it does offer us, rather than focus 100% on failed edge cases.

Also, add me to the list of those wondering why Google+ didn't tack this on way back when Facebook did.

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Coat

Interface, interface, interface

When will the PTB finally realize that a good interface is just as important as good code? That a programmer/developer is not he same thing as an interface designer? And neither are most graphic artists? That clutter does not equal options?

Just look at those old browser interfaces from here: http://www.dejavu.org/emulator.htm (thanks to the poster in the Mosaic article comments)

Pretty lame yet very straightforward.

My point? You kids get off my lawn!

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Translation on G+

That should help all 5 users.

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Detours via English

Actually Google Translate should do relatively well on legalese, I read once that his been trained with all the translations of minutes from meetings of the EU (EP, or EC).

That being said, going to or from English usually goes pretty well, but problems arise for instance with going from Dutch to French: English is being used as an intermediate. Take for instance the Dutch word "zwaluw", which means swallow, the noun, not the verb. It comes out in French as "avaler" which is the verb "to swallow". Correct translation should be "hirondelle" and in a straight Dutch - French translation you will get that, but the detour through English messes up the translation.

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Mi kredas ke estas utila aldono. Ĝi estas bona por paroli!

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I'm not at all impressed by Google Translate. Errors like its translation of "My dog pants when exercised too much" into anything I can make head or tail of are amusing but indicate that it doesn't do any useful parsing to help decide which way to go when it encounters something which has a homonym but is a completely different part of speech. Almost anything but simple single clause sentences will be garbled quite horribly, with arbitrary choice of which noun an adjective qualifies - it can get that wrong even when proximity and grammatical number and gender both indicate clearly what is right - and does utterly lunatic things with word order. It fails to make use of noun cases to determine the nouns' functions in a sentence in languages which have cases for common nouns. It seems to work on remarkably short word sequences, so that it fails on anything that requires context - but natural language syntax is not context free for any language in the world! And the detours via English mentioned by Manolo ensure that the number of errors is doubled when translating between two languages neither of which is English.

The free translators at reverse.net are quite a bit nicer than google translate, for the languages that they cover (far fewer than google translate covers); and they take feedback from users so that problems can be identified and fixed, while google translate appears to have no feedback mechanism.

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It has, or at least it used to have a feedback option, as I flagged the swallow problem almost a year ago. Maybe they removed it, since they were not acting upon it anyway.

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