Forget duff translations by Google - MOLTOs here!

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Bugsy, Jan 25, 2010.

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  1. Or will be? If the project goes ahead, MOLTO will solve all of the translation problems anybody's ever had. Just look at what it'll do:

    http://www.molto-project.eu/

    Anybody have any questions/qualms about it?

    I've been a professional translator for the past 35 years or more. I've worked on the development of nascent translation programs from Omega Software in Chicago in 1981 to much more recent stuff, but I've yet to encounter a translation program that comes anywhere near the abilities of a human to interpret moods, specialities, colours, customs etc in a language. So could this MOLTO thing possibly be the answer?

    MsG
     
  2. What was the question?
     
  3. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    Are you trying to get someone to start a Tower of Babel scaremongering thread here, Bugsy? Doom on you, doom on you...... :D

    Apologies to all parents - been watching Ice Age way too many with my wee ones :)

    In time I am quite sure some sort of universal translator will be possible. Looks like a fair starting point by the academics listed there.
     
  4. To be honest, most of the current translation applications are utter pump. As an example, I just put 'La lucha continua. No pasaran' into babelfish and it came back as 'The continuous fight. They would not happen'. While that is technically a correct translation, it's obviously a load of b0llocks because it has used a different tense from the one most people would be using when saying such a thing in real speech.

    As an aside, I read somewhere (Bill Bryson, I think) that Esperanto could be useful as a kind of 'halfway-house' language i.e rather than translating directly from, say, English to Chinese, the software would translate first into Esperanto, then into Chinese. Has this ever been tried?

    PS I hope you appreciate my choice of Spanish phrase, Bugsy :wink:
     
  5. The question was/is, DarkNinja: will machine translations ever be able to accurately render the same services as human translators?

    The question might seem academic, but all it takes to throw off a machine translation is a misspelling. If I write "I can't believe", then your machine can translate it, no question, but if I write "I karn bleeve" (which humans can understand), your machine is a bit fücked.

    Furthermore, and as another typical example, the translation of the English phrase: "Does anybody want anything else?" into German would be: "Will jemand noch etwas?", but into Swiss-German it would be: "Hett öppe no' öppis welle", which, since it's inconsistent, unofficial and subject to subtle changes in dialect (for instance, "ebbe" and "ebbes" instead of "öppe" and "öppis"), could conceivably throw your machine into tremors.

    There's a lot more to translating than translating.

    MsG
     
  6. How would it cope with interpretation in context? Old example, 'eats shoots and leaves'. The common diet of the Giant Panda, or a gangster having an altercation in a restaurant?

    Even if the system forced the original text through a spellchecker, it couldn't possible sort out punctuation because at best it could only make some pattern 'guess' at meaning? In the above example, in English we use 'shoots' in that spelling for young sprouts of a plant or to describe an act of shooting something that can be shot. Another language and they have entirely different words for each - this is without getting into colloquialisms and slang? e.g. In Malta if someone calls you a 'jockey' it doesn't mean they think you're a light weight person who rides horses :omg: :D

    No.9
     
  7. That's what I'm getting at, No.9. And puncuation's not even the half of it. What a human understands in a heartbeat, a computer/machine needs yonks to process. Another (typical) example, this time from the Italian:

    1st Fella: "Ho vinto nella lotteria" - "I won on the lottery".
    2nd Fella: "Culo".

    The word "culo" in Italian normally means "arrse" (as in "male nel culo" - pain in the arrse), but in this case it means "lucky/jammy". It's very doubtful whether a computer program could sort out the correct connection to avoid confusion. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it depends on the particular situation, which the machine can't really encompass, since it's only dealing with sterile words and not the accompanying emotional associations.

    MsG
     
  8. What about ’bella figura’ then? Fair to find it applied to a well turned out lady, but is used on many other occasions when a lady is not the subject? If you’re thanking someone they might comment ’figura’, meaning ’don’t mention it /think nothing of it’ etc. But if you do a lookup for ‘figura’ it might return ‘it appears’, or ‘a picture playing card’, ‘a small painting’, it goes on.

    It reminds me of a chap I knew who didn’t speak Italian, but was convinced he knew how to tell them to f’ off. When I asked what he said, he uttered ‘Waffen cola’. Wouldn’t have it he’d just made up some German military fizzy drink :omg: :D

    No.9


    ps. had a mail asking what a Maltese means by calling you a ‘jockey’ – it rhymes with ‘anchor’ ;)
     
  9. Don't you mean " Culo grande ?

    or better would be...

    "tu hai un culo grande"
     
  10. I doubt machine/software translaters, will be great any time soon. Just taking translating between German and English, is hard enough; German isn't known as 'deutsche Sprache - schwere Sprache' for nothing. There seems to be no ends of exceptions to the rules! Plus, everytime you think you've figured out how a word is used, there comes another usage.

    Anyway, as long as I can order my biers and my Bratties... :D
     
  11. No, the whole expression is: "Hai avuto culo", literally: "You had arrse", but it means: "You were lucky/jammy". But it's often just abbreviated to "culo", or even: "Que culo".

    In the same context, a Boxheed could say: "Schwein gehabt". Again, it means: "You were lucky", but literally it means: "You had (a) pig". That's why I believe that there's a whole lot more mileage in the translation profession, because machines just can't pick up on these shades of meaning as well as a human, and they also have to run right through the logical sequences again and again.

    MsG
     
  12. F... Em, make em all learn ENGLISH :twisted:
     
  13. Very interesting. But the linked document is basically just a warning order. Is this a case of 'come back in three years?'
     
  14. "Hai avuto culo", literally: "You had arrse", but it means: "You were lucky/jammy". But it's often just abbreviated to "culo", or even: "Que culo"."

    And, if you pronounce the addition of a short hard 'French N' on the end - culoN - it means you/they have/are a big arrse :D

    Hungarian Phrase Book

    No.9
     
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