Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Google Translate met my challenge?

In the last footnote of the previous entry, I wondered if the infamous ambiguity of natural language would easily defeat algorithms that don't have deep comprehension of the symbols. I contrived two different English sentences with distinct meanings despite sharing many words: 1) "I'm quitting my run because I can't stand the sun directly overhead," and 2)"Too much overhead is required to run a stand". I'm feeling chagrin after I stuck the two into Google Translate. It produced French translations that don't appear to have grievous errors. Then again, my first language is English and my French is...limited. But my consultations of online French-to-English dictionaries haven't shown any serious problems. For an English speaker who doesn't know any French, the words' discernible resemblances aren't hard to see. I'll admit it. I'm impressed by Google Translate's use of context. Will Google's automated cars do well on Canadian roads?


UPDATE later: And...here's a counterexample of GT not working as well. "The child put the toy in the pen" is a classic conundrum for machine translation. "Stylo" is not the appropriate French word in this case. Changing "pen" to "playpen" works better, though. L'enfant mis le jouet dans le stylo.

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