Gambling with Google Translate

When I enrolled at school, taking a language was not in the cards for me. That soon changed as I completed all the interesting Art and English classes. Soon it became clear that a language was a necessary requirement for graduation. I found that the skill set provided by the English classes were inadequate for my purposes. I was missing the basic English skills required and the classes that covered these skills were remedial at best. My only option was a foreign language.

Language has always interested me. The complete integration of reading, writing and speech has always been a source of wonder. In my mind speech is one skill, reading a second and writing is a third. They are as different as unicorns, internets and shoes. I find it quiet amazing that the human mind can grasp all three and combine the three into the ultimate means of expression.

Learning a foreign language forces a person to review their native language and their skills with it critically.

Do I want to say “internets”? Yes. Is “internets” correct? No. What is wrong with it? No capitalization and the pluralization of a singular item. I am still going to use it? Yes. Why? Because it is funny in a defective way. Is that all? No, “internets” provides word play value as it is not REALLY a singular item and not a proper noun. I can write “Library” and “library” and even “libraries” and “Libraries”, so technically I should be able to do the same with “internets”. In English.

Could I do that with Spanish? Not without sound daft or dumb if you prefer.

Humans have an inherent level of error correction that allows them to overcome flaws in the application of language. There is a certain level of correction used on a daily basis that allows for communication. Broken language skills forces a listener to make allowances. Exposure to too many errors can cause reproduction in the listener. That “copying” will degrade a person’s language skills unless they question and review their skill often.

Just a few weeks ago, Google rolled out a Chrome extension for translation. How does it fare? Actually not bad.

Lets take a look at a Poker website. Being a geek, I have to use a game website, it wouldn’t be cool to use a government page. I don’t play cards much but would like to learn. And this site does have a link to Facebook, which I use all the time.

www.poker.dk

Chrome provides an obvious button at the top for the translation, allowing the user to read on should they speak that language themselves. It also identifies the name of the language which is a nice touch.

Clicking the translate button creates some technical issues.

Translated www.poker.dk

As you can see, the major features of the page remain unchanged. The banner is an image so it remains unchanged. The flash images in the center are also unchanged.

A little zoom shows the text body is now rendered in English.

Zoom text

The first sentence translates clearly; I understand everything. It isn’t poetry or marketing gold, but it works. Moving to the third sentence, I see a phrase that stands out: “the place”. An American website would capitalize that cliché for all it is worth – “THE PLACE” or some other variation. American marketroids are addicted to capitalization in all of its ugliness. There are hints that this is a machine translation, but it is a very good machine translation.

Language is very subjective, humans endeavor to have the best tools available for any skill. Is Google Chrome Translation the new dictionary/thesaurus? Not yet, but…

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