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Translator English To Spanish - Google vs. Babelfish, Round 2 - English to Spanish Online Translator

translation video translate rules

Don’t let outdated websites fool you—free online Spanish translation is getting faster and more accurate every year due to a variety of innovative approaches. Granted, they’re still far from perfect, but they are close enough to capture the gist of most text.

In 2001, About.com performed an experiment where they translated a Spanish website into English using the online translators of the time. They considered the online translations a communicative failure and encouraged their readers to avoid free translation.

Although Spanish shares a common ancestry with English, it presents several translation challenges. Word order ranks high on the list of difficulties: in Spanish, adjectives go after nouns instead of before them—that is, “the dog white bit Greg” instead of “the white dog bit Greg.” Once you include unique vocabularies, synonyms, and name recognition, then it’s no wonder that Altavista’s online translator of 2K1 failed its challenge.

Nine years later, the rules have changed. Some online translators, like Babelfish, have taken the Altavista approach to new heights, using teams of translators and linguists to slowly account for the dizzying arrays of rules and guidelines necessary for online translations. Meanwhile, Google Translate has left the humanities behind to attempt a purely mathematic database capable of learning languages from sample texts.

Let’s take an example from a Spanish suspense franchise, Donde Esta Elisa?.

En video: Testimonios delictivos
Cristóbal entra en una línea de investigación para aprovechar los errores del secuestrador, mientras Bruno escapa dejando un testimonio grabado de sus delitos. ¡Disfruta el capítulo!

Now, let’s enter this into Babelfish and test its readability.

In video: Criminal testimonies

Cristóbal enters a line of investigation to take advantage of the errors the kidnapper, while Dark brown it escapes leaving a testimony recorded of his crimes. It enjoys the chapter!

Not bad, but not great. Most of this entry is comprehensible, but it is unmistakably Spanglish. Now, let’s see the Google Translate attempt:

In video: criminal Testimonials
Christopher goes into a line of research to exploit the mistakes of the kidnapper, Bruno escapes while leaving a recorded testimony of their crimes. Enjoy the chapter!

Impressive, no? Google Translate comes across as very native-sounding, accurately describing the video clip being featured on the website. It does so using a “brute force” model of decryption—hard mathematics which look at large samples of both languages and form statistic patterns rather than individually programmed rules.

Google Translate proves superior to Babelfish at this juncture, and the future remains exciting. With rumors of real-time cell phone translation on the horizon, it is an exciting time for translation theory..

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