Sunday, May 31, 2009

Online Language Translation Programs

Online translation services have come a long way, and they have so far yet to go.

Yahoo! bought Babelfish, formerly Altavista's domain, and they do a fair job.

Google Translate also does a reasonable job of translation for most languages.

The litmus test for each site seems to be the non-Romantic languages; namely, Japanese. Here is the original Japanese text of a sample Web site:

イラスト 漫画 便所掃除 肉奴隷 闇の仕事人 等々…
ただしゲーセンの店員だけはお断り致します( ^ ^ ;) もー無理。絶対。

This is how Babelfish attempted to translate this block of text:

In The Midst of Work Collection!!
He is such a I, but you can let do the work which is undertaken accurately!
Work person etc. of illustration cartoon toilet cleaning meat slave darkness…
If it may with me, you do with anything! Work!!!
Don't you think? please inquire with ease to this.
However just the salesman of the Gaea plug refuses (the ^ ^;) - Excessiveness. Without fail.

And now, Google Translate's shot at Japanese-to-English:

Looking For Work?
I took the job I will do exactly this!
Black slaves who worked in the meat and clean toilet cartoon illustration of ...
If you'd like me to do anything! Please work!
Do please contact us feel free to feedback.
The only game parlor employee will be permitted (^ ^;) Oh it. Absolute.

So--neither system is perfect and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. I think Google's result is a little stronger, a little clearer, but obviously it is not precise. Could it help me navigate a Japanese Web site better than Babelfish? Potentially, but not without some small confusion. Still, it's better than I could do on my own.

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