Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trusting the Machine Translators

The excellent German Google-watch site Blogoscoped has a nice example of what happens when you use automatic translation systems in forward and then use the result in reverse. You often end up being unable to recognise the original. That's certain the case with these Garfield cartoons that used Google translator in one direction and the Babelfish translator in the other. I sometimes use the software to get the gist of something, if its a topic or event I already know about. But never trust machines on the small print. The best quote to play with is from Groucho Marx - "Time Flies Like an Arrow, but fruit flies like a banana". Haven't seen any machine back translate that correctly.

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