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Old 18th December 2020, 01:44 AM   #1
Puppycow
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Machine translation

Machine translation used to be pretty awful, but new technologies such as deep learning have made significant improvements. To be sure, it still makes mistakes, but it's a lot better than it was just a couple of years ago.

Here is an online tool you can use to translate from one language to another.

https://www.deepl.com/en/translator

My second language is Japanese. Here is a sample machine translation of the following news article in Japanese:
https://mainichi.jp/articles/2020121...0m/030/138000c

I will highlight the errors that I can spot.
Quote:
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Announces Cause of Mauritius Heavy Oil Spill

On July 18, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (Tokyo), the operator of the large cargo ship Wakasio (inconsistent romanisation, see below), which ran aground and spilled heavy oil off Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean, announced the results of its investigation into the cause of the accident. MOL (Tokyo), which was operating the ship, announced the results of its investigation into the cause of the accident on April 18. (redundant and the date is wrong) The company said that the crew members approached the island to use their cell phones from the ship and did not have detailed charts of the site, so they did not know the exact location and depth of the water, which led to the stranding.

 The Wakashio was on its way to Brazil from China via Singapore. Vessels passing through the waters off Mauritius generally keep their distance to the extent that they do not enter the territorial waters (within about 22 kilometers from the shore). However, two days before the Wakasio ran aground, the ship's crew slightly adjusted its course to get closer to the coast in order to communicate by cell phone.

 When it approached the island, it was closer to the coast than expected because it had not prepared detailed charts. The depth of the water at the site was misidentified as more than 200 meters when it was actually only 10 meters. Radar and visual confirmation of the situation was also insufficient. The Mauritius coast guard said that just before the accident, they noticed the Wakashio approaching the island abnormally and warned it several times by radio. However, according to MOL, there is no record of the Wakashio receiving such warnings.

 In addition, there are records of the Wakasio making abnormal approaches to the coast off Indonesia and Taiwan within two months prior to the accident, and it is possible that the Wakasio was using a cell phone on that occasion as well.

 The shipping authorities in Panama, Central America, where the ship is registered, have pointed out that there was a "lack of supervision and monitoring and carelessness" on the part of the crew, and that the accident could have been avoided if proper measures had been taken. The government of Mauritius is continuing to investigate the cause of the accident, and the Japanese government is also cooperating by sending an investigation team from the National Transportation Safety Board to the area. The Indian captain and two others have been arrested on suspicion of negligence of safe navigation.

 The Washio was owned and managed by a subsidiary of Nagashiki Kisen (Okayama Prefecture) and chartered by MOL. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) is planning to strengthen its involvement in crew training and its support and monitoring of the ship's operation at its head office as measures to prevent a recurrence.

 In the accident, about 1,000 tons of fuel oil leaked into the sea. The majority of the oil was recovered by contractors and volunteers, but there are concerns about the medium- to long-term effects of the accident, as the site is an area with valuable ecosystems such as coral and mangrove forests. (Mitsuyoshi Hirano, Johannesburg)
Overall, pretty darn good, wouldn't you say? Except for that one redundant sentence with the wrong date. Pretty readable, and you can see what the problem was.

Feel free to try out other languages and post your results.
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Old 18th December 2020, 01:50 AM   #2
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Yep, that is pretty good. Any idea what causes the inconsistencies in the ship's name? I assume that isn't something a human translator would do?
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Old 18th December 2020, 01:56 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Yep, that is pretty good. Any idea what causes the inconsistencies in the ship's name? I assume that isn't something a human translator would do?
Well, a careless human translator could make a mistake like that. People misspell words and it won't be recognized by a spell checker.

As far as why the algorithm is inconsistent, it may be because it learns by example from humans and there are different ways to romanise Japanese. Perhaps that's a kink that can be worked out eventually.
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Old 18th December 2020, 12:30 PM   #4
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Looks fantastic. from I can do with Lithuanian. OOPs, it says "any language". I guess they mean any on their list of 10. No Lithuanian . Darn.
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Old 18th December 2020, 04:10 PM   #5
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So I've been having hella trouble coming up with a translation for the follwing prompt on my phone system:

"For Billing questions, press 7"

Seems simple no? But every native Spanish speaker I ask gives me a different answer. Here is the one we all agree sounds the best:

"Para preguntas sobre cobros, pagos o facturas, oprima el siete." Because apparently, billing doesn't really have a word for it in Spanish.

So let's see what this machine learning engine gives us:

"Para preguntas sobre la billetera, presione seis". Which if you aren't a fluent Spanish speaker might seem ok, except that "billetera" translates to "wallet" in most people's understanding. No one can understand why the computer would come up with, "billetera."

Google's attempt:
"para preguntas sobre facturación, presione seis." Which is much better than DeepL, but most people here translate that to "invoicing" in Spanish.

"presione" is also problematic in both instances. Apparently, in the context of a phone system, the correct word for press is, "oprima."

I think there are too many nuances in different languages for machines to yet do a really good job at accurate translation.
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Old 18th December 2020, 04:26 PM   #6
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I'lll give you another example of why machines won't ever do a good job at translation.

"¡Yo so el mero mero!" translates roughly to, "I'm the best!" or maybe "I'm the boss!"

DeepL gives us, "I'm the grouper!" or "I'm the mere grouper!" or "I'm the mere halibut."

One way to say, "Almost" in Spanish is, "Ya mero." DeepL gives us, "Already mere."

It just can't account for the way people use the language in every day use. It might be fine for formal writing, but not really for conversational use.
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Old 18th December 2020, 06:08 PM   #7
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Yeah, I'm definitely not claiming it's prefect. It's just better than it used to be.

And probably better for formal prose than for colloquial expressions.

In your first example, it seems that even human beings have difficulty translating the word "billing" into Spanish. Since the computer learns by example from people, it's not surprising that it would also have some difficulty with a word that doesn't have an easy one-to-one translation from one language to another.

I suggest for an example, translating a random news article, either Spanish to English or English to Spanish, and see how it does. I don't expect perfection certainly, but is it good enough to be readable and understandable in most places?

OK, I found an example:

https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-55363036

Excerpt of English translation:
Quote:
Cyberpunk 2077: the criticism that forced Sony to withdraw from its stores the "most expected game of the year

Sony withdrew the video game Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation stores and announced that there will be refunds for those who have purchased it.
Users complained that Cyberpunk 2077 was plagued by software errors and technical failures. In addition, the game tends to get "hung up".
At the beginning of this week, the developers of the video game, CD Projekt Red, offered consumers a refund.
The company also pledged to release patches - or updates - to improve the performance of Cyberpunk 2077.

It is unclear when Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) plans to return the product to the PlayStation store shelves.


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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Old 18th December 2020, 11:24 PM   #8
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The obstacles that are still left for this are looking more and more like just extra little bits of information that the systems need to account for, and less and less like insurmountable prohibitive impossibilities.

Also, objections about the difficulties & complications sometimes remind me of a scene from a sci-fi book I read ages ago in which some aliens have one human among them who communicates with them through an electronic device. He's the first human they've met so the device's database of his language consists entirely of what he's taught it in the time since he showed up. He and the aliens both simplify their own speech to make it easier to translate. Sometimes they understand each other and sometimes some parts of what they're saying just yield some kind of "untranslatable" signal. (I always imagined it as just a "static" sound while reading but I don't actually remember how it was described). However, in a crucial scene in which they really want/need to know what he's up to so they can act accordingly, they get an inordinate amount of non-translation, even after they and he have been at this for a while and gotten pretty good at it, as if their & his progress and using this device had suddenly regressed. The aliens were angry at him, and the reason why somehow stuck with me, maybe because, with the whole story told from the aliens' points of view instead of the human's this was the first sign of nefariosity from him:

"******, he knows how to make that thing work".

In other words, the translation device was not like completely natural conversation, but it was good enough that using it was a skill, in which case not using it properly was also a skill. He was deliberately giving it stuff he knew it couldn't handle and feigning helplessness, which meant he was hiding something.

That's how it will be with real-world translators, especially as they get more common. Yes, there will be things they still get wrong, but people will know what to expect from them and only use them in ways that work. The only reason to target the remaining corners of language that don't go through very well will be the kind of "look at the stupid results I can get from this if I misuse it just right" nonsense that most people will outgrow by age 14.
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Old 19th December 2020, 12:19 AM   #9
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I did my MSc on machine translation back in 1992, writing an app in Prolog to translate from English into German and discussing at length the difficulties encountered. It was a fine example of Pareto’s Law: getting 80% of the functionality was reasonably straightforward, but the last 20% is a shocker. It’s not at all a surprise that, in spite of all the resources thrown at the problem and the massive increases in computing power over the last thirty years, there remain problems to solve.

Having said that, where I work we have four official working languages and frequently have to accommodate three or four more and we use Deepl as our main tool. Obviously anything that gets published in any form goes through human translators, but Deepl is excellent for everyday use.
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Old 19th December 2020, 12:33 AM   #10
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I'm going to do an experiment.

French
Japanese
Irish
Portuguese

I just picked four languages as I thought of them. Only one Asian.

I'm going to pick a post. Delvo's is the right length. I'll go to translate.google.com, and I will translate it to French, and then the output to Japanese, then to Irish, then to Portuguese, then back to English.

I tried this a few years ago with the opening paragraph of a book, and the results were good, but not fantastic. The meaning was recognizable, but definitely garbled. Let's see how good they are. Back in a few.
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Old 19th December 2020, 12:46 AM   #11
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Ah yes, the twilight of my profession.

Visions of the job centre. Crippling mental problems. Stacking boxes.

I'm not bitter.

Anyone know how programmers respond to a wrench to the head?
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Old 19th December 2020, 12:48 AM   #12
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Here are the results. I had to make one change. For some reason, copying and pasting the Japanese for the Japanese to Irish translation didn't work. I used Russian instead. That means there were nothing other than European languages involved, but they were from four different language families (Germanic->Romance->Slavic->Celtic, and a nearly dead language at that,->Romance->Germanic

Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
The obstacles that are still left for this are looking more and more like just extra little bits of information that the systems need to account for, and less and less like insurmountable prohibitive impossibilities.

Also, objections about the difficulties & complications sometimes remind me of a scene from a sci-fi book I read ages ago in which some aliens have one human among them who communicates with them through an electronic device. He's the first human they've met so the device's database of his language consists entirely of what he's taught it in the time since he showed up. He and the aliens both simplify their own speech to make it easier to translate. Sometimes they understand each other and sometimes some parts of what they're saying just yield some kind of "untranslatable" signal. (I always imagined it as just a "static" sound while reading but I don't actually remember how it was described). However, in a crucial scene in which they really want/need to know what he's up to so they can act accordingly, they get an inordinate amount of non-translation, even after they and he have been at this for a while and gotten pretty good at it, as if their & his progress and using this device had suddenly regressed. The aliens were angry at him, and the reason why somehow stuck with me, maybe because, with the whole story told from the aliens' points of view instead of the human's this was the first sign of nefariosity from him:

"******, he knows how to make that thing work".

In other words, the translation device was not like completely natural conversation, but it was good enough that using it was a skill, in which case not using it properly was also a skill. He was deliberately giving it stuff he knew it couldn't handle and feigning helplessness, which meant he was hiding something.

That's how it will be with real-world translators, especially as they get more common. Yes, there will be things they still get wrong, but people will know what to expect from them and only use them in ways that work. The only reason to target the remaining corners of language that don't go through very well will be the kind of "look at the stupid results I can get from this if I misuse it just right" nonsense that most people will outgrow by age 14.
Here's the retranslated English after going around that circle.

Quote:
The remaining obstacles to this are more and more like small pieces of additional information that systems must take into account, and less and less as prohibitive and insurmountable impossibilities.

Furthermore, protests against adversity and difficulties remind me of a scene in a science fiction book that I read many years ago, in which aliens face someone who communicates with them through an electronic device. ... He was the first person they met, so the database of devices in his language is composed entirely of what he has taught him since he arrived. He and foreigners simplify speech to facilitate translation. Sometimes they understand each other, and sometimes parts of what they say just provide some kind of "motionless" signal. (I always thought it was a "static" sound during playback, but I don't quite remember how it was described). However, in a crucial scene where they really want / know what he is doing so that they can act, they receive a lot of transfer, even after he and they have been there for a while. . minutes and it looks good. they are good at it, as if their progress and use of that device suddenly decreases. The aliens were angry with him, and perhaps the reason I was stuck with him was that the whole story is being told from an alien perspective and not from a human point of view, "was the first sign of nonharius:

"******, he knows how to make this thing work."

That is, the translating device did not seem like a completely natural conversation, but it was enough to use it as a skill, and in this case, it was also a skill. He deliberately gave her things that he knew he couldn't handle and scared them, which meant he was hiding something.

This will be the case for real translators, especially as they are becoming increasingly popular. Yes, there will be things they are wrong about anyway, but people will know what to expect and will only use it the way it works. The only reason to focus on hooks and other claws of language that don't reproduce very well is "to look at the stupid results I can get if I abuse it" - nonsense that will succeed most people. over 14 years. ....
It was about five years ago that I last tried this experiment. It got better.
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Old 19th December 2020, 01:06 AM   #13
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Ya know, if it does such a good job at translating from Japanese, maybe someone can send the link to Japanese game studios and such. Maybe then we won't have to wait 10 years for a game to get released in the west too

I mean, it's either that or the Penny Arcade solution: just drag Japan closer to the USA
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Old 19th December 2020, 01:10 AM   #14
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And, this is scary. It worked well enough that I decided to pick something obscure in the middle of the list of languages, and just try that one and the next four.

English->Nepali->Norwegian->Odia->Pashto->English

Quote:
The limitations of this are to look at a lot of small data that requires a lot of computing for systems, and to eliminate as few obstacles as possible.

Obstacles to complexity and complexity remind me of a scene from a sci-fi book that I read centuries ago, in which some aliens have a man who communicates with them through electronic means. He was the first person to meet with her, so his language was included in a database of tools he used to show up at the time. He and the foreigners simplify their speech which makes it easy to translate. Sometimes they know each other, and sometimes what someone just says gives a kind of “unexpected” signal. (While reading, I always imagined it as a “stable” sound, but I don’t remember how it was expressed). In an important scene where they really want to know what he’s doing, he can act on what he says, they can get a lot of non-translation, he and she still look good. It would be great if their own progress and the use of this tool would be unexpectedly pressured The strangers were angry with him, and for one reason I stayed, because the whole story was told from an external point of view rather than a human , It was the first sign of dissatisfaction with him.

"******, he knows how to make these things work."

In other words, the translation tool is not completely natural, but it was enough to be able to use it with this skill, not to use it. He consciously gave things he knew he couldn’t manage, and found unconsciousness, meaning he was hiding something.

The same thing will happen to original translators, especially when they become more common. Yes, there are things that they still do wrong, but people know what is expected of them and only use things that work. The only reason to target the rest of the language is that it doesn't work very well. See the stupid results I get if I abuse it.
..
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
And, this is scary. It worked well enough that I decided to pick something obscure in the middle of the list of languages, and just try that one and the next four.

English->Nepali->Norwegian->Odia->Pashto->English

..
That's something I didn't even try. A game of telephones could get weird, and I guess it did, but the result was still recognizable.
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Old 19th December 2020, 10:26 AM   #16
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I first used google translate in 2006 (I think). My son was attending a Jewish school, and he was having trouble in Hebrew. We were probably the least observant parents in the Jewish school, and had no background in Hebrew. I wanted to help the kid with learning the language, but I didn't know it myself. We got a children's book written in Hebrew, and I patiently typed in a paragraph at a time, and got the English translation, and would work through some exercises based on those texts. It was slow going, because the translations were usually terrible, but we worked through it. I spoke a little bit of French, and I tried the same thing with French texts, and the results were pretty good, but a little flaky. The grammar was bad and so the words came back ok, but the sentence structure was garbled, with words in wrong order, or verb tenses mangled.

I think today everything would be fine.

I decided to do the "telephone" test again using the text that I first tried it on five years ago. It's a book about the siege of Constantinople in 1453. It has some flowery language that, five years ago, just didn't translate well. You could recognize the result, but it was definitely awkward. Here's the original:

Quote:
Early spring. A black kite swings on the Istanbul wind. It turns lazy circles round the Suleymaniye mosque as if tethered to the minarets. From here it can survey a city of fifteen million people, watching the passing of days and centuries through imperturbable eyes. When some ancestor of this bird circled Constantinople on a cold day in March 1453, the layout of the city would have been familiar, though far less cluttered. The site is remarkable, a rough triangle upturned slightly at its eastern point like an aggressive rhino’s horn and protected on two sides by sea. To the north lies the sheltered deep-water inlet of the Golden Horn; the south side is flanked by the Sea of Marmara that swells westward into the Mediterranean through the bottleneck of the Dardanelles. From the air one can pick out the steady, unbroken line of fortifications that guard these two seaward sides of the triangle and see how the sea currents rip past the tip of the rhino horn at seven knots: the city’s defenses are natural as well as man-made.

Crowley, Roger. 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West . Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
And the translation, via the European language circle:

Quote:
The beginning of spring. A black kite flies in the Istanbul wind. It takes place in lazy circles around the Suleymaniye mosque, attached to minarets. From here, he can inspect the city of fifteen million inhabitants, looking at the days and centuries with ghostly eyes. When the ancestors of this bird roamed Constantinople on a cold day in March 1453, the city's plan would be known, although less crowded. The magnificent location, an almost inverted triangle at its eastern point, resembles an aggressive rhino horn and is protected by the sea on both sides. To the north is the protected entrance to the Golden Horn; to the south is the Marmara Sea, which extends westward into the Mediterranean through the neck of the Dardanelles. From the air, it is possible to see the flat and continuous line of fortifications that protect these two sides of the triangle from the sea, and the sea currents touching the rhino's horn at seven knots: this is also the defense of the city. naturally than in humans. -done.
I'm surprised at how badly mangled the last sentence is, and the general "feel" of the original prose is lacking. It's somewhat better than it was five years ago.

I suspect throwing Irish into the mix degrades the translation somewhat. Irish is a near dead language. It is spoken by almost no one as their mother tongue. Moreover, it has a Verb-subject-object word order, and some strange tenses. That's got to be difficult to translate through, but it obviously gets the job done fairly well.
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Old 19th December 2020, 10:33 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Olmstead View Post
Ah yes, the twilight of my profession.

Visions of the job centre. Crippling mental problems. Stacking boxes.

I'm not bitter.

Anyone know how programmers respond to a wrench to the head?
Speaking as a 58 year old programmer, at least be satisfied that we have been hoisted by our own petards. I'm a dinosaur struggling to make it to retirement age. It all changes too quickly, and I can't keep up with the kids. (Anyone under 30 is a kid to me.)
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Old 19th December 2020, 10:37 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
So I've been having hella trouble coming up with a translation for the follwing prompt on my phone system:

"For Billing questions, press 7"

Seems simple no? But every native Spanish speaker I ask gives me a different answer. Here is the one we all agree sounds the best:

"Para preguntas sobre cobros, pagos o facturas, oprima el siete." Because apparently, billing doesn't really have a word for it in Spanish.

So let's see what this machine learning engine gives us:

"Para preguntas sobre la billetera, presione seis". Which if you aren't a fluent Spanish speaker might seem ok, except that "billetera" translates to "wallet" in most people's understanding. No one can understand why the computer would come up with, "billetera."

Google's attempt:
"para preguntas sobre facturación, presione seis." Which is much better than DeepL, but most people here translate that to "invoicing" in Spanish.

"presione" is also problematic in both instances. Apparently, in the context of a phone system, the correct word for press is, "oprima."

I think there are too many nuances in different languages for machines to yet do a really good job at accurate translation.
My biggest concern is neither Google nor DeepL can translate 7 into Spanish, that should be very straightforward.
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Old 19th December 2020, 10:40 AM   #19
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Speaking of google translate, some time in 2008 or thereabouts, I think I was responsible for improving it by contributing a word. I had been in Germany, and an ice cream salesman came by our plant around noon every day, and there was a flavor I had never heard of called "Waldmeister". it was pretty good, but no one had any idea what it was called in English.

I was in a liquor store one evening, and I also noticed it as a flavor for schnapps.

When I asked at the office, one person said it was an herb that grew in forests, and it was a flavoring for wine. I poked into google translate, but the translation came back as "waldmeister". It didn't know. I remembered though that I had read a recipe for May-wine once, and the key ingredient was woodruff. I verified, somehow, that woodruff and waldmeister were the same thing, and so did the "suggest a translation" thing. A few weeks later I poked in again, and this time the translation of "waldmeister" came back as "woodruff".

I don't know if my entry was what made it work, but I can feel likely that I contributed to it.
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Old 19th December 2020, 10:50 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Well, a careless human translator could make a mistake like that. People misspell words and it won't be recognized by a spell checker.

As far as why the algorithm is inconsistent, it may be because it learns by example from humans and there are different ways to romanise Japanese. Perhaps that's a kink that can be worked out eventually.
Surely it's simple enough to be consistent? I'm not sure how the ship's name appears in the article, but if it's in kanji then if the program is good enough to recognise it as a name then it should have a unique romanisation for it, its not as if there are inflections in English which mean the word needs to be changed.
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Old 19th December 2020, 11:29 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I suspect throwing Irish into the mix degrades the translation somewhat. Irish is a near dead language. It is spoken by almost no one as their mother tongue. Moreover, it has a Verb-subject-object word order, and some strange tenses. That's got to be difficult to translate through, but it obviously gets the job done fairly well.
Derail but you're spoiling for a fight there, Mister. Some of us speak Irish nearly every day and the tenses make perfect sense .
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Old 19th December 2020, 12:21 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Derail but you're spoiling for a fight there, Mister. Some of us speak Irish nearly every day and the tenses make perfect sense .
I stand corrected. English has some very odd tenses, and they are not the same as the Irish. English really does have a couple of tenses I haven't seen in any other language. I'm not fluent in any language other than English, but I have a smattering of several. I never got too far into Irish, though. Just enough to find myself saying, "What's a verb-noun?" It's not quite a gerund.

I haven't been in Ireland in a long time, but what I noticed when I was in the Connemara gaeltacht was that all the advertising was in English.
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:59 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Surely it's simple enough to be consistent? I'm not sure how the ship's name appears in the article, but if it's in kanji then if the program is good enough to recognise it as a name then it should have a unique romanisation for it, its not as if there are inflections in English which mean the word needs to be changed.
In the article it is written in hiragana: わかしお. It seems like it would be a simple thing, but I don't how the algorithm works. I think it teaches itself by learning from examples translated by humans. The character し is often romanized as shi because that's how it sounds, but some people drop the 'h' and just write si to save a keystroke. When typing Japanese, you can use that shortcut and still get し.
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Old 20th December 2020, 12:26 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Ya know, if it does such a good job at translating from Japanese, maybe someone can send the link to Japanese game studios and such. Maybe then we won't have to wait 10 years for a game to get released in the west too
You would think so. I have worked for Japanese companies where someone could literally have asked me "Does this sound right?" before printing out massive amounts of leaflets in garbled English.

A guy I know was asked to teach a restaurant owner English and still made up expensive banners that coated the entire shopping promising "Itarian Food!"

The Japanese government might have just tried to ask someone if they thought there could be any mistakes when they brought out the Covid-19 response campaign "Go To Travel!" Spreading the virus far and wide was not the only one.
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Old 20th December 2020, 12:46 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I stand corrected. English has some very odd tenses, and they are not the same as the Irish. English really does have a couple of tenses I haven't seen in any other language. I'm not fluent in any language other than English, but I have a smattering of several. I never got too far into Irish, though. Just enough to find myself saying, "What's a verb-noun?" It's not quite a gerund.

I haven't been in Ireland in a long time, but what I noticed when I was in the Connemara gaeltacht was that all the advertising was in English.
I was only pulling your leg. Irish has a beautiful internal logic all of its own, but the vast majority of learners only get as far as awareness of the concept of verb-nouns, the absence of a verb "to have", modifying prepositions, bizarre genitive forms, aspiration and eclipsis, and the use of the copula, before running screaming for the door *.

It's not really a dying language but it's certainly a minority language. It's been under a certain amount of pressure since, say, the twelfth century.



* There is also the modh coinníollach but we never talk about that to outsiders.
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Old 20th December 2020, 12:50 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
You would think so. I have worked for Japanese companies where someone could literally have asked me "Does this sound right?" before printing out massive amounts of leaflets in garbled English.

A guy I know was asked to teach a restaurant owner English and still made up expensive banners that coated the entire shopping promising "Itarian Food!"

The Japanese government might have just tried to ask someone if they thought there could be any mistakes when they brought out the Covid-19 response campaign "Go To Travel!" Spreading the virus far and wide was not the only one.
For most of my working life I've been the only native English speaker within my organisations and I've begged people to pass everything for publication in English in front of me first, but there's nearly always been resistance. It drives me nuts.
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Old 20th December 2020, 01:46 AM   #27
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I read an article a few years ago about how much awful Engrish comes out of Japanese organizations. The conclusion was that the problem is not a lack of competent translators or a shortage of adequate translation software, but that practically every company and agency has a culture of treating its highest few levels of officials/executives as practically infallible, which those same few people seem convinced of themselves as well. So whenever someone too high-ranking who thinks he knows English comes up with some silly Engrish and doesn't see any reason to seek assistance with it, either nobody who knows what's wrong is willing to point it out or they just get ignored. The result has been that so much of the "English" seen in Japan is Engrish instead, that even those who try to seriously study English and get it right are surrounded by Engrish examples instead and can easily end up learning that by example.
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Old 20th December 2020, 01:52 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
In the article it is written in hiragana: わかしお. It seems like it would be a simple thing, but I don't how the algorithm works. I think it teaches itself by learning from examples translated by humans. The character し is often romanized as shi because that's how it sounds, but some people drop the 'h' and just write si to save a keystroke. When typing Japanese, you can use that shortcut and still get し.
I don't know if it is to save a keystroke so much as being influenced by that really idiotic version of kana transliteration that apparently all schools in Japan seem to retain. This is why names on "nafuda" that ought to read Chizuru, somehow read as Tiduru, etc...
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Old 20th December 2020, 01:55 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
I read an article a few years ago about how much awful Engrish comes out of Japanese organizations. The conclusion was that the problem is not a lack of competent translators or a shortage of adequate translation software, but that practically every company and agency has a culture of treating its highest few levels of officials/executives as practically infallible, which those same few people seem convinced of themselves as well. So whenever someone too high-ranking who thinks he knows English comes up with some silly Engrish and doesn't see any reason to seek assistance with it, either nobody who knows what's wrong is willing to point it out or they just get ignored. The result has been that so much of the "English" seen in Japan is Engrish instead, that even those who try to seriously study English and get it right are surrounded by Engrish examples instead and can easily end up learning that by example.
Yeah, that's probably very true.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th December 2020, 07:29 AM   #30
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A few observations from a recently retired translator re machine translation.
  • By using tools like the now defunct pro version of Google Translate, I helped the algorithms bigly. Later translations of similar texts, even when not using translation memory, would often exhibit the improvements on first try. Even if I benefited, it felt like an alliance with the devil.
  • Machine translation is pure word sequence matching, and makes no attempt at semantics. Word choices change in context (eg, "libros": "books", "accounting ledgers") only because the machine has had access to similar texts and so matches correctly.
  • Then there is the ambiguity of natural language that is impossible to get correctly if the contextual clues are not there (part of longer text), such as: "I watched the man walk down the street and turn into a store." Someone shopping, or a magic woo event? Machines will never "know", unless specific algorithms are included to handle such particular sources of ambiguity.
As for the examples in thread, I've never had a translation tool not get written numbers correct, so cannot comment on an error I've never encountered. Then there are the language variants, Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish being quite different, more so that UK vs US English, and within the latter region there are great differences, mostly all centered around the various Spanish viceroys (New Spain (US SW and Mexico), Peru (comprising central Andes), Nueva Granada (Colombia, Venezuela), and Rio de la Plata (Argentina and surrounding countries excluding Brazil)).

The translation I would use for "For Billing questions, press 7" is "Para consultas sobre facturación, pulse siete", which would be for the context of customer support (people getting billed, but not themselves billing) in Castilian Spanish; other contexts/variants requiring possible modification.
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Old 20th December 2020, 08:44 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
A few observations from a recently retired translator re machine translation.
  • By using tools like the now defunct pro version of Google Translate, I helped the algorithms bigly. Later translations of similar texts, even when not using translation memory, would often exhibit the improvements on first try. Even if I benefited, it felt like an alliance with the devil.
  • Machine translation is pure word sequence matching, and makes no attempt at semantics. Word choices change in context (eg, "libros": "books", "accounting ledgers") only because the machine has had access to similar texts and so matches correctly.
  • Then there is the ambiguity of natural language that is impossible to get correctly if the contextual clues are not there (part of longer text), such as: "I watched the man walk down the street and turn into a store." Someone shopping, or a magic woo event? Machines will never "know", unless specific algorithms are included to handle such particular sources of ambiguity.
As for the examples in thread, I've never had a translation tool not get written numbers correct, so cannot comment on an error I've never encountered. Then there are the language variants, Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish being quite different, more so that UK vs US English, and within the latter region there are great differences, mostly all centered around the various Spanish viceroys (New Spain (US SW and Mexico), Peru (comprising central Andes), Nueva Granada (Colombia, Venezuela), and Rio de la Plata (Argentina and surrounding countries excluding Brazil)).

The translation I would use for "For Billing questions, press 7" is "Para consultas sobre facturación, pulse siete", which would be for the context of customer support (people getting billed, but not themselves billing) in Castilian Spanish; other contexts/variants requiring possible modification.
I studied artificial intelligence in the 1980s in college, and the general approach to machine translation at the time, which did not work very well at all, was to try to look at a sentence, extract some sort of semantic knowledge from it in a language neutral manner, and then take the semantic knowledge and form sentences in the target language about it. This approach continued for a long time, and machine translation didn't work very well at all.

Somewhere in the early 21st century, I started noticing tools coming out that seemed to work better, and over the years, more and more improvement until we've reached where we are today, where complex sentences can come out recognizable after numerous translations through various languages.

I read an article that said the big breaktrhough came when the translation programs dropped all pretense at semantic understanding, and just started pairing up words and combinations of words.
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Old 20th December 2020, 09:09 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Speaking as a 58 year old programmer, at least be satisfied that we have been hoisted by our own petards. I'm a dinosaur struggling to make it to retirement age. It all changes too quickly, and I can't keep up with the kids. (Anyone under 30 is a kid to me.)
Speaking about being hoisted by one's own petard ...

A big thing in translation now is PEMT (Post-editing Machine Translation), which is exactly what it sounds like and is also what a large number of translation projects have become. It's cheaper and quicker. And every time I accept to do a project like that, I'm basically feeding the algorithm or whatever. And the client ordering the translation can check exactly how many edits I do.

They can literally create a statistical analysis of how obsolete I am and observe my descent into even greater obsoleteness in real time.
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Old 20th December 2020, 09:42 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
You would think so. I have worked for Japanese companies where someone could literally have asked me "Does this sound right?" before printing out massive amounts of leaflets in garbled English.

A guy I know was asked to teach a restaurant owner English and still made up expensive banners that coated the entire shopping promising "Itarian Food!"

The Japanese government might have just tried to ask someone if they thought there could be any mistakes when they brought out the Covid-19 response campaign "Go To Travel!" Spreading the virus far and wide was not the only one.
I'm not even talking about the quality, though. I just want them to release the bloody game in the west too, preferably before you'd need to go to a museum to find some computer and OS that can still run it
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Old 21st December 2020, 04:30 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
I'lll give you another example of why machines won't ever do a good job at translation.
If you're serious about the highlighted word, would you be interested in a bet?
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Old 21st December 2020, 07:27 AM   #35
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Problem with many machine translations is that they fail to recognise idioms and sayings.

"cold enough*to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" or "over the moon"

You don't want that translated word for word, you want the translation to use something with the equivilant meaning in the foreign language.
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Old 21st December 2020, 08:24 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Problem with many machine translations is that they fail to recognise idioms and sayings.

"cold enough*to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" or "over the moon"

You don't want that translated word for word, you want the translation to use something with the equivilant meaning in the foreign language.
So, just as a test I tried these examples for "over the moon":

Quote:
Judy was over the moon when Tim proposed to her.
He was over the moon when he got a job with his dream company.
My daughter was over the moon when she got her new bicycle.
The players were over the moon after overcoming a tough opponent to win the championship.
We were over the moon when we finally moved into our new house.
She was over the moon when she was declared the winner of the singing competition.
They were over the moon when their start-up bagged a major deal from a reputed client.
I was over the moon when he broke the news to me.
Source: theidioms.com
The result:
Quote:
ジュディはティムからのプロポーズに大喜びだった。
彼が夢の会社に就職した時は大喜びでした。
娘が新しい自転車を手に入れたときは、月の上にいました。
選手たちは手強い相手を乗り越えて優勝したときに月を越えた。
やっと新居に引っ越してきた時は月を越えていました。
彼女が歌の大会で優勝を宣言されたとき、彼女は月の上にいました。
彼らのスタートアップが評判の良いクライアントから大きな取引をバッグに入れたとき、彼らは月の上にいまし た。
彼が私にニュースを打ち明けたとき、私は月の上にいた。
出典:theidioms.com
The first two are translated correctly (大喜び) while most of the others are literal (not correct) translations: (月の上にいました and 月を越えた)
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Old 21st December 2020, 08:37 AM   #37
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"Judy was over the moon when Tim proposed to her."

Google translate gives in French:

Judy était aux anges quand Tim lui a proposé.

"aux anges", literally means "at the angels", but it is translated as "to be over the moon". I think that's pretty accurate. It correctly used the appropriate idiom in each language.
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Old 21st December 2020, 08:43 AM   #38
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On the other hand, I tried the phrase "Monday morning quarterback", and didn't get a useful translation....this time.

I don't know if there is a corresponding phrase in other languages.
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Old 21st December 2020, 08:48 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
"Judy was over the moon when Tim proposed to her."

Google translate gives in French:

Judy était aux anges quand Tim lui a proposé.

"aux anges", literally means "at the angels", but it is translated as "to be over the moon". I think that's pretty accurate. It correctly used the appropriate idiom in each language.
"aux anges" is fine but "lui a proposé" made me throw up in my mouth a little.
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Old 21st December 2020, 09:26 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
On the other hand, I tried the phrase "Monday morning quarterback", and didn't get a useful translation....this time.

I don't know if there is a corresponding phrase in other languages.
In French the sense would be conveyed by something like "gérant d'estrade" (gérant being a manager, estrade being a podium or a platform, something like that), but it's nowhere near as colourful or idiomatic as the American expression.
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