Immensely improved GT
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:19
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
May 20

For some time I have been experienced an advance in Google Translate that I would not have thought possible only five years ago. There are still some stupid habits like putting a space before : and spaces around / , but gone have poor grammar and mixing up word order. Of course some editing is still necessary, but I would not like to go back in time and do without GT.

Taner Tanrıöver
neilmac
Claudia Cherici
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:19
Chinese to English
In my pair, I still don't find it useful May 21

This is what GT does with the first couple of paras of a translation competition text:

Lu Xun once said a joke: At noon on a hot day, a peasant woman did a very hard job and suddenly sighed: "The Queen Mother really doesn't know how happy. At this time, it is not a nap in bed. When I wake up, I yell. : 'Eunuch, take a dried persimmon!'" This is the so-called "poverty limits the imagination", the hard-working, mountain farmers who have not seen the world, is to rack their brains, can
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This is what GT does with the first couple of paras of a translation competition text:

Lu Xun once said a joke: At noon on a hot day, a peasant woman did a very hard job and suddenly sighed: "The Queen Mother really doesn't know how happy. At this time, it is not a nap in bed. When I wake up, I yell. : 'Eunuch, take a dried persimmon!'" This is the so-called "poverty limits the imagination", the hard-working, mountain farmers who have not seen the world, is to rack their brains, can only think of the Queen's happy life to this height.
I don’t remember which piece of essay, the actor who plays the poor man looks envious of the rich man’s day and says, “When you have money in the future, you can drink soy milk every day to eat fritters, want to lick sugar, sugar, and want to lick brown sugar and brown sugar. Buy two bowls of soy milk, drink a bowl, and pour a bowl!" Poverty has limited his imagination. He has no way of knowing that the rich are far more luxurious than this.

It's interesting to check, periodically, but I still find that GT misses the point by too much. There's still zero benefit in looking at the GT output for me.

Uncontestable errors in these two paras:
(1) did a very hard job - wrong tense
(2) Queen Mother - wrong person
(3) "doesn't know happy" - ???
(4) It is - wrong subject
(5) not - incorrect negation
(6) take - wrong direction
(7) mountain - incorrect interpretation
(8) is to rack - incoherent verb
(9) to this height - just plain incoherent
(10) piece of essay - wrong word
(11) you - wrong person
(12) to eat - wrong verb form
(13) want to - wrong verb form
(14) sugar - incomplete clause
(15) lick - wrong word
(16) and brown sugar - wrong connector
(17) buy two bowls - wrong verb form
(18) pour - wrong word
And that's before getting into any of the issues of sentence form and word choice.

Obviously there are some cultural challenges in there which it is perhaps unfair to expect GT to handle. But it's just the basic sense of the piece. Without reading the source, I wouldn't be know with any level of confidence what is going on in these paragraphs. And if I'm going to go and read the source anyway, then GT is doing nothing for me.

A (slightly free) human translation:
Lu Xun used to tell this joke: A farmer's wife, slaving under the hot noonday sun, took a break and sighed, "What I wouldn't give to be Queen! Just imagine, I could be in my bed having a siesta! And when I woke up, I'd snap my fingers for a eunuch to bring me anything I want, like an apple!" Perhaps this is what they mean by "poverty of imagination": simple farm folk, hewing a hard living from remote soils, can imagine no greater pleasure for the queen than this.
Or there's a sketch I once saw, in which a poor man dreams of a rich lifestyle, his face full of envy. "When we have money," he says, "we'll have soy milk and fried bread for breakfast every day, and if I want to dip it in white sugar, I'll have white sugar. If I want brown sugar, I'll have brown sugar. I'll buy two bowls of milk, drink one, and tip the other right on the floor!" Poverty and low status have limited his imagination, to the point where he simply could not picture the far greater luxuries of a wealthy life.
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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:19
German to English
That's pretty good, but ... May 21

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

For some time I have been experienced an advance in Google Translate that I would not have thought possible only five years ago. There are still some stupid habits like putting a space before : and spaces around / , but gone have poor grammar and mixing up word order. Of course some editing is still necessary, but I would not like to go back in time and do without GT.


Yes, okay, if you spoon feed Google, then it only messes up a few times ("have been experienced", "but gone have poor grammar" - which is ironic, because of the staement that follows it). And, yes, there are also genuinely appealing bits like "would not have thought possible only five years ago" ...

Ultimately though, you have to genuinely work through a text several times to consistently not end up with any real nonsense in the course of translating hundreds of thousands of words per year, so I don't even see where Google comes in as a labor-saving device.

Most importantly, though, plug a real text into Google and it will give you Gibberish.

That said, it's like self-driving cars, they only have to be less bad than a significant number of humans to become relevant as competitors for those humans, but I still don't see it. And obviously it also depends on the type of text: There may be some very well-written instruction manuals out there that actually are Google-Gerber. I don't think that's what most of us are dealing with most of the time, though. I certainly know I'm not.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:19
Member
English to Italian
I would, and I do... May 21

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

For some time I have been experienced an advance in Google Translate that I would not have thought possible only five years ago. There are still some stupid habits like putting a space before : and spaces around / , but gone have poor grammar and mixing up word order. Of course some editing is still necessary, but I would not like to go back in time and do without GT.


... and I hope to be able to keep it that way for years to come... Otherwise I'll have to find myself another job...


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree May 22

I think GT has improved a lot since I started using it. It's just a tool, not a magic wand, and much better than Systran, which I managed to use with a modicum of success on certain types of text (mainly boilerplate business and administration) back in the day.
However, I don't really agree about the "stupid" details cited. For example, I find that having to go over GT output to correct things like spaces after / encourages me to check the text again for any other little mistakes or blips.
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I think GT has improved a lot since I started using it. It's just a tool, not a magic wand, and much better than Systran, which I managed to use with a modicum of success on certain types of text (mainly boilerplate business and administration) back in the day.
However, I don't really agree about the "stupid" details cited. For example, I find that having to go over GT output to correct things like spaces after / encourages me to check the text again for any other little mistakes or blips. What I mean is, if MT programs turned out a pristine, human-quality translation every time, some users would probably be less likely to give it a thorough going over once the draft is ready.
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Philip Lees
 


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