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Translation Redux



2:29 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

Posting here because I'm picking up from an earlier, auto-locked thread in the same Forum:


I've recently translated one of my own pages and want to take the opportunity to reiterate: If you are thinking about offering up a machine-translated page as an alternative to having the visitor take their own side trip to g### Translate...

Don't Do It.

The perils are just too big. Do you want people to leave your site laughing heartily and sharing it with their friends while keeping wallet firmly in pocket?

My version was pretty modest. I have one specific page whose visitors are primarily from Italy. (There is nothing obviously Italian about the content, but I asked around and it turns out there's a solid reason.) So as a kindness I decided to offer the page in Italian.

I started from the g### translation. Then I fixed the blatant errors, and showed it to an assortment of Italians. One of them kindly volunteered to fix the entire page. The others were presumably laughing too hard.

Oh, ouch. Oh, ouch. What a humiliating experience. I really ought to know my own gender, even if google doesn't. And I do know the difference between a chiave and a tasto. Really. Contrarily, I see I should have spent more time getting a grip on the difference between the Conditional and the Subjunctive and less time mastering the forms of the Passato Remoto.

Along the way I learned something both useful and worrying. When you ask google to translate a www page, it doesn't look at the "lang=" declarations-- even though it obviously has to read the html in order to get the styles and pictures in place. So the mid-page line

<h3 lang = "it">Grazie a Tutti</h3>

was dutifully converted into "Grazie uno Tutti" even though it was unambiguously labeled as already Italian. I tried the same thing with a different page (mentioned in the earlier thread) after slathering it with language tags. Even with

<i lang = "ja">sake</i>

staring them in the face, they still treated it as the English word "sake". Sigh.


2:49 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Fun stuff. I guess we're still a very long way off from machine translation.

I've been surprised at how often pages are being accessed via Google Translate, but I guess I'll just leave that alone.


8:26 pm on Jul 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

:: bump ::

While testing something language-related on another Forum, two different German speakers said that they set their browsers' default language to English because they can't stand the lousy German translations of most www sites. Now, these are people whose English is flawless, and it's an English-language forum-- but still worth noting.

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