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Translate Chinese To English - Google vs. Babelfish - Which Is Best to Translate Chinese to English? - “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.”

translation times worst conquered

In 2007, Google won the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) computer translation contest. The NIST contest was accompanied by waves of news articles praising Google for its purely mathematic approach to translation.

Unlike Yahoo’s Babelfish and other free translation software, Google Translate does not use a team of linguists and programmers in a vain attempt to code grammar. Instead, programmers “feed” massive amounts of expertly translated text into a chain of algorithms similar to those used to decrypt coded military communications. In this way, Google Translate “learns” languages on its own rather than having them taught to it, and it even includes a user function for self-correctability—someone familiar with a phrase can correct Google with their expert opinion, making the database even smarter.

Though Google Translate is intuitive, it still makes mistakes, as all machine-based translations do. Every language has its own logic—its own preferred word order and idiosyncrasies of speech. Jumping between grammars requires logic so blurred and fluid that machines simply are not capable of it.

There are even times when Google Translate’s complex technique costs it accuracy with relatively simple words.

To better understand how incompatible machines are with translation, let’s consider three short examples. Each was fed into one of the two leading translation programs to translate English to Chinese. The
resulting phrase was then entered to translate Chinese to English.
This is what came out:

“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.”

(Babelfish) The quick brown fox has jumped over the lazy dogs.

(Google Translate) Quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.

Though neither result is perfect, the differences are minor. For Babelfish, it was a shift in verb tense—from “jumped” to “has jumped,” while Google Translate dropped the article “the.” It’s hard to decide which translator performed best, as Babelfish alters the meaning more significantly while Google Translate is more obvious to a native speaker. Let’s try something a little harder, though:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

(Babelfish) This is the time is best, it is the worst time.

(Google Translate) This is the best of times, this is the worst of times.

Between these two, Google Translate is the clear winner, though the shift from past to present tense is a significant one. For Babelfish, the result is almost gibberish—enough that someone could figure out the popular phrase, but not without a chuckle. Perhaps such poetics, though, are a little unfair for this comparison; let us try something far simpler.

I came. I saw. I conquered.

(Babelfish) I came. I saw. I conquered.

(Google Translate) I’m coming. I saw. I conquered.

Amazing—100% accuracy from the supposedly inferior Babelfish! Previous examples suggest, though, that Babelfish can get lost in its own translation—the Shakespeare translation earlier was almost incomprehensible. With its more direct programming, Babelfish has the advantage of not making mistakes with very simple grammars, while Google Translate is a composite of numerous slangs and differences of phrasing.

In conclusion, Google Translate might be the smarter engine, but Babelfish’s simpler design gives it situational advantages over its competitor.

Translator English To Spanish - Google vs. Babelfish, Round 2 - English to Spanish Online Translator [next] [back] Google Task Bar - Google Task Bar - Overview and Feature of Google Task Bar

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