SansBlogue  
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 
Automatic translation sadly still SF ::

While I was away over Easter they made me an offer I couldn't refuse:
I'm writing to introduce my new website, www.localtranslation.com. Localtranslation offers a plain white-label translation utility for webmasters to include on their sites for free.
Wow, that'll make life easier for all my non-anglophone readers. Or at least those who speak "French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese".

Of course, machine translation is still a developing technology, somewhere about the level of voice recognition 10 years ago is my estimate. As a test of the new service I supplied a paragraph chosen pretty much at random from the Amos commentary, the first from a page about city gates:

In the Ancient Near East city gates were neither merely entrances, nor only used for military protection. As a potentially weak point in the defenses, the gates of Israelite walled cities typically had three chambers giving four sets of "doors" and defended spaces between. The gates of Hazor (left - plan above) and Gezer from the time of Solomon show this triple construction.


This gave the almost comprehensible French:

Dans la ville antique du proche Orient les portes n'étaient ni simplement des entrées, ni seulement utilisé pour la protection militaire. Comme point potentiellement faible dans les défenses, les portes d'Israelite ont muré des villes ont typiquement eu trois chambres donner quatre ensembles d'"portes" et d'espaces défendus entre. Les portes de Hazor (laissé - projetez ci-dessus) et de Gezer dès l'exposition de Solomon cette construction triple.

Which in turn gave as the German the somewhat less than pelucid:

In der für den Militärschutz antiken des Nahen Ostens die Türen waren weder einfach von den Eingängen noch nur benutzt Stadt. Als potentiell schwacher Punkt in den Verteidigungen haben die Türen von Israelite Städte eingemauert gehabt typisch drei Kammern, vier Gesamtheit von "Türen" und von Räumen zu geben, die verteidigt wurden, zwischen. Die Türen von Hazor (gelassen - oben planen Sie) und von Gezer von der Ausstellung von Solomon an diese dreifache Konstruktion.

With a back translation of the totally incomprehensible:

In for the military protection antiken of the Near East the doors were neither simple from the entrances nor only use city. When potentially weak point in the defenses the doors have typically three chambers immured of Israelite of cities had to give four whole of "doors" and from areas to which were defended, between. The doors of Hazor (calmly - above you plan) and of Gezer of the exhibition of Solomon to this three-way construction.

I'm sure that with a bit of selection I could have achieved funnier results, but this is enough to show why I still have problems making any real life use of such services!


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