Automatic translation

I was just alerted to a new site, ackuna.com, that is promoting their crowd-source translation capabilities by showing how bad machine translation can be. To illustrate this, you type in some text, and their “Bad Translator” feature runs it back and forth between English and various other languages using popular on-line translation sites.

As I had just seen “Anna Karenina” (superb movie), the obvious phrase to use was Tolstoy’s famous opening paragraph: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Eight translations later through Bing I got:

“”

Which was disappointing. So then I tried SDL, which I’d never heard of, and five translations later I got: “The happy families that I am like everything; each family in a satisfactory way not is not in a satisfactory way in its real way. ”

This seemed more promising, so I tried Bing again, and got this (WordPres still strips out non-Roman characters):

From English: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
To Bulgarian: ?????? ????????? ?? ?????? ????????; ????? ???????? ????????? ? ???????? ?? ???? ?????.
Back to English: Happy families are all worthy; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
To Catalan: Feliç famílies són tots dignes; cada família infeliç és infeliç en el seu propi camí.
Back to English: Happy families are all worthy; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
To Chinese Simplified: ????????? ???????????????????
Back to English: Happy family all worth it; each unhappy family is sad in its own way.
To Chinese Traditional: ???????????;????????????????????
Back to English: Happy families, are worth a look; is tragic in its own way, each unhappy family.
To Czech: Š?astné rodiny, jsou stojí za to podívat; je tragické, svým zp?sobem, každá neš?astná rodina.
Back to English: Happy families, are worth a look; Tragically, in his own way, each unhappy family.
To Danish: Glade familier, er værd at se; Tragisk, på sin egen måde, hver ulykkelig familie.
Back to English: Happy families, are worth a look; Tragic in its own way, each unhappy family.
To Dutch: Happy families, zijn de moeite waard een kijkje; Tragische op zijn eigen manier, elke ongelukkig familie.
Back to English: Happy families, are worth a look; Tragic in its own way, each unhappy family.

Which was more promising (though ??? is clearly suspect…)

Then I decided to be cruel, and tried this: “Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist.

Feeding this to Bing for eight passes:

From English: Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist.
To Bulgarian: ???? ????? ?????? ???? ???????? ?????? ????? ?????? ???? ?????? ???????? ???????? ?????? ??????? ???? ?????? ?????? lodge, ???, ??????.
Back to English: Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle Gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, doc, florist.
To Catalan: Vol peó termini s’atreveixen estam cullera Gavina aixada lift humides assassinat interior cullera cordage honor picor oferta lodge, doc, floristeria.
Back to English: Wants pawn term dare lift inner ladle Gull hoe bucket Stamen humid cordage honor itch offer lodge, killed doc, florist.
To Chinese Simplified: ?????????????????????????????????? doc? ???
Back to English: Wants pawn term dare lift inner ladle Gull hoe bucket stamens wet cordage honor itch offer Lodge, killed doc, flower shop.
To Chinese Traditional: ?????????????????????????????????? doc?????
Back to English: Wants pawn term dare lift inner ladle Gull hoe bucket stamens wet cordage honor itch offer Lodge, doc killed, flower shop.
To Czech: Chce, aby p?šec termín odváží zvednout vnit?ní pánvi Racek motyka kbelík ty?inek wet š??ry ?est sv?d?ní nabídka Lodge, doc zabit, kv?tiná?ství.
Back to English: He wants to weigh up the internal term pawn basin Gull hoe bucket of wet cords honor itch offer Lodge, doc killed, flower shop.
To Danish:
Back to English:
To Dutch:
Back to English:

Not too surprisingly, Danish was the weak link. So I tried five passes through SDL:

From English: Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist.
To French: Les besoins mettent au mont-de-piété le défi de terme ascenseur de houe de mouette de louche en laine peignée meurtre plus mouillé cordages de louche intérieurs honorent la loge d’offre de démangeaison, le bassin, le fleuriste. 
Back to English: The needs put to the mount-of-piety the challenge of term elevator of hoe of mouette of ladle in wool combed wetter murder ropes of internal ladle honor the lodging of offer of itch, the pool, the florist. 
To German: Die Bedürfnisse stellen zur Untersatz-von-Frömmigkeit die Herausforderung des Begriffsaufzugs der Hacke des mouette des Schöpflöffels in Wolle hat gekämmt nassere Mordseile des inneren Schöpflöffels ehren die Unterkunft des Angebots des Juckreizes, des Teichs, der Florist. 
Back to English: The needs place to the support-of-piety the challenge of the concept procession of the hoe the mouette of the take spoon in wool combed wetter murder ropes of the internal take spoon honor the lodging of the offer of the itchiness, the pond, the Florist. 
To Italian: I bisogni collocano al sostegno-di-la pietà la sfida della processione di concetto della zappa il mouette del porta il cucchiaio nella lana ha pettinato le corde di assassinio più bagnate dell’interno portano il cucchiaio onora l’alloggio dell’offerta del prurito, lo stagno, il Fiorista. 
Back to English: The needs place to the support-of-the pity the challenge of the procession of concept of the hoe the mouette of the door the spoon in the wool combed the cords of assassination more wet some inside carry the spoon honors the lodging of the offer of the itch, the pond, the Florist. 
To Portuguese: As necessidades colocam ao apoio-de-a pena o desafio da procissão de conceito da enxada o mouette da porta que a colher na lã penteou os cordões de assassinato mais molhado algums dentro de carregar a colher honra a hospedagem da oferta da coceira, a lagoa, o Florista. 
Back to English: The needs put to the of of penalty the challenge of the procession of concept of the hoe the mouette of the door that the spoon in the wool combed the weter cords of murder algums inside carry the spoon honors the lodging of the offering of the itch, the pond, the Florist. 

This is a great toy! Check it out: http://ackuna.com/badtranslator

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s