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"Dependent On Language Robots...", 8 days ago, 2:24 AM #1
CrosEL

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I need help, as you may or may not know (depending on if you saw my previous magic-thread) I've been looking up different languages, but: I found out that Google Translate might not be the best choice for ANYTHING!!!

The 1st indication is when I looked at a older site I used to use (which offers far less languages, but seemingly more accurate translations) and everything checked out as I thought it would, (depending on how the word was used and what I learned from the place I saw it...) But typing in the EXACT same word on Google, doesn't mean the same thing, and in fact, doesn't have ANY of the meanings that I saw on the other site, or rarely in any other media!? (Even the words broken down into syllables, doesn't add up...)

The 2nd indication, and the last straw was: ...I translated a compliment from english, and attempted to use it to speak to a friend of mine on another site. It was one freaking word, and she said knew what I was doing: but it was stupid to speak that way?!!!

That was it: WHAT the ACTUAL hell?!!!! Does Google help with anything!!!? Despite this fact: I know I have to use one of the translations machines, as I don't know anyone that speaks anything other than English or street (I tried making more friends, but the language barrier pushes us back...) So...

Tell me what I'll need to use to get my message across: I personally dislike the site, but the important part is everybody would know what I'm talking about, if I use the translations.

Long story short: Does everybody depend on Google Translate? Should I use the tool as the basis of anything I'd try to do in different languages?
I have no idea how much is accurate, but the important part at the moment is: people knowing what I'm talking about, and being able to refer back to something, after enjoying something cryptic in a comic/story, going to the popular site, finding out what it means and saying "Cool!".

Should I just use the most popular thing, so people can understand what I'll say?
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8 days ago, 2:56 AM #2
lirvilas
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Are you translating the whole work, or are you looking for a few lines in another language to spice it up?

I've had my best luck with helpful readers pointing out bad grammar in other tongues, but I'll bet if you asked the right people here you could get a few one off assists.
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8 days ago, 3:23 AM #3
GMan003
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Machine translation just isn't at a state where it can translate into idiomatic, fluent text. It works okay for taking sentences in a language you can't speak, and turning it into something you can understand. It works badly for taking sentences in a language you do speak, and telling you how to say it in another language.

It's not just Google. Literally every computer translation tool suffers this way. Even if you go to some cutting-edge computational linguistics research lab, their prototype stuff is only marginally better even when it works right.

This is partly because translating is hard. Here's a case of the New York Times, one of the biggest newspapers on the planet, producing some "grating" Chinese... and as one of the editors (who popped up in the comments section) mentioned, they actually checked with their Chinese branch for advice on the translation.

If you want to translate your work into a language, or even just have sections of foreign-language dialog, you need to find a native speaker to at least look it over. There's no way around that if you want any sort of quality.
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8 days ago, 3:26 AM #4
MissElaney

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This is not going to give you an authentic translation but it will giv eyou a hold-you-over translation that you can give to a native or fluent speaker.

When I have to actually sincerely translate something here is my process:

First, make sure there are no idioms or figures of speech in the sentences or words to be translated. You can't say "Drunker than a soup sandwich" to the translator. You have to instead say "Extremely drunk."

Next make sure there are no homonyms. Homonyms are words that are spelled the same but mean two different things. For example, a "lock" of hair and a "lock" on a door. If you have a homonym on your hands, think of synonyms for that word and individually translate each synonym.

Next make sure that there is no ambiguity or shorthand For instance, if I say "English", do I mean "English Language"? "English person"?

Then, if you happen to know it in a different language (you know the word/phrase of the thing you want to translate, or better yet you actually just know a second+ language) then translate it from THAT language as well and compare the translations.

Now, look at the translation(s). For each word you want to investigate, copy and paste that word into google image search. You are very likely going to find stock photos of whatever the hell that word is and you won't have to rely on knowing the language to look at pictures. This isn't going to work for words that happen to be grammatical particles but it WILL help you out immensely for nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Back-translate it into English to make sure the meaning is conveyed.

Do NOT expect the back translation to give you exactly what you said. Do not, also, expect the grammar to sound "natural". It should more or less make about 90% sense, but just because it doesn't give you EXACTLY what you typed in in English, doesn't mean that the back-translation is wrong. It means -- if you used no homonyms, no figures of speech, and proper English grammar -- that there is a structural difference going on under the hood in the translation from English to Target-Language.

Gotchas:

DOUBLE CHECK GENDER:
English doesn't have gendered speech but many languages do. Translations tend to default to male speech. Double check GENDER of a verb or adjective by explicitly translating the verb or adjective in question paired with 'he' or 'she'. So let's say that your character asks another character in spanish "Are you certain?" it will give you 'estas seguro?'

But your character is talking to a woman.
So, you double-check it and type "Is she certain?" or "she is certain." It spits out segura with an a ending.

So you replace 'seguro' with 'segura', making sure that the gender agrees with the subjegt.


DOUBLE CHECK VERBS:
English verbs do conjugate (change endings depending on whether I, you, or she/we do something) but NOT as explicitly as other languages do. For example, "I read, you read, she reads, we read, read this book" -- only once is it any different with "reads" and then it's "read" the whole way through. Hell, in past tense, it's "read".

But in Spanish? leO, leES, leE, leEMOS, leE este libro. Past tense has its own forms too that are spelled differently.

In Russian? Ya chitaYU, ti chitaESH, on chitaET, chitAITE etu knigu. Past tense has its own forms too.

So, when you run into a verb, isolate it from the sentence and translate it with the noun of the do-er in front of it to be double-sure it's the right 'case'. So, make sure to actually directly translate THAT verb with THAT noun pairing.


For example. Force 'imperative' case (asking someone to do something) by prefixing it with "please" (e.g. please read this) -- which will typically give you the 'formal/polite' way to ask it. Or, end it with an explanation point to try to fish out the informal way to ask it. For example if I write 'please read this' into Google Translate to Russian it'll give me прочтите (prochtite, with the formal '-ite' ending) but if I type "read this!" it spits out прочитай (prochitai, with the informal -i ending).


There is more to it, depending on your target language, but, there's starter info for you.

It also is going to just generally help you immensely to give yourself a crash-course through the language's grammar features in order to know what to look up for something. If that intimidates you (you may find very foreign concepts like dual verb forms, vocative case, etc etc, casting too wide of a net when all you really need is just to translate like 3 sentences) then INSTEAD you should probably go with deconstructing the English sentence to its grammatical forms/cases/tenses ("this is the subject, this is the verb, this is the direct object...This verb is in subjunctive case, this verb is in past tense...") and then run off to google to say "hey Google how does [insert language here] handle direct objects in a sentence?" "Hey Google how does [insert language here] handle prepositions?"

Good luck.
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8 days ago, 4:46 AM #5
Sikyanakotik
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The best way to translate using the internet isn't to just shove a phrase into Google, but to research how actual native speakers say what you're trying to say. Sites like Linguee are very helpful, but the best solution is to talk to a native speaker and ask how they'd translate them.

If you're looking for translation help, you might be able to find a native speaker here on this forum. Why not ask around?
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8 days ago, 7:17 AM #6
Fluffythespider
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You shouldn't use Google translate if you've found a better translator just because Google's more widely used. It's not like the people speaking different languages are more familiar with google translated versions of their language. Odds are they can tell it's been translated the same way it's obvious to English speakers if it's been translated, by the weird grammar and stuff like that.

Your best bet is to learn the other language, but if you must rely on translators, why not use the one that gives the better result? I can't see a reason why that wouldn't be the obvious answer. Is your worry that if you want to use a word that means "flower" from this other translator that if someone plugs it into Google they'll get a different meaning? Because if you're speaking to native speakers, this won't be an issue. They're not putting stuff into google translate, they already speak the language.
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8 days ago, 1:53 PM #7
Damatris
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MissElaney has great advice about how to navigate digital translation programs. Languages have so many nuances that programs just aren't up to the job for fluent translations.

If you need simple phrases you could also try Google search instead of using the translate option. For example, if you type "how to say I love you in French" one of the first things is a site that offers 10 different ways to say it. It'd allow more personality to the text.

I actually sometimes Google to figure out if an idiom I want to use is an actual thing and not something I've simply come up with. Great way to find synonyms too if the one with the right nuance is eluding me. Usually I do it with English since it's not my native language but I occasionally derp with Finnish too and then feel like an idiot googling my own language. :'D

For not time sensitive translations you could also try asking for help on forums either here or other places. I there's places dedicated to that. Those places are where I usually find the answer to my question about idioms. Also, borrowing phrase books from library in the language you need is helpful! As are dictionaries whether they are digital or not.

If you want to find friends who speak other languages, there are places where you can find language buddies who are also looking for language sparring partner. Also duolingo etc apps are good for learning foreign languages from what I've heard. I can't verify that since I have only studied with irl teachers.

And the thing about languages is that the more you study them the easier it will be to pick up new ones. Only problem is starting to forget the words if you don't interact with it... :(

I can say that as someone who has dipped their toes in 5 different foreign languages. Although German and Spanish were very brief and Japanese was only for bit less than one year. But since I already spoke Finnish (native), had good grasp on Swedish and fluent in English I started picking them up really quickly.
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"Research time?", 8 days ago, 2:55 PM #8
CrosEL

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I'm getting that Human beings are FAR more reliable in this... Thanks! I only wanted to translate a handful of words, and to break up names to find out what each part meant (Sometimes the meanings are different than the individual words...) I only know English, and even then there's a large amount of words I don't know/use...

I'll depend on real people more for this, when possible: Thank you again!
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8 days ago, 3:41 PM #9
Damatris
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If it's just words, go for dictionaries! They're perfect for that since you won't have to worry about grammar. :D
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8 days ago, 4:50 PM #10
Microraptor
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In my opinion, online translators are only useful if you have a text in a foreign language that you want to read. The translator can help you understanding at least the gist of it.
For translating towards a foreign language they are rather unsuited, because without knowledge of the target language in the first place, you can't double-check for accuracy.

As a little experiment, go get some foreign language text from somewhere on the internet, use an online translator to translate it into your own language, and be in awe at the train wreck that this will inevitably produce!
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8 days ago, 5:22 PM #11
MissElaney

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Yall seen the star wars translated from english into chinese into english dub, right?

It's great

Until the fucking obnoxious kid who plays yoda speaks and ruins everything.

You just know someone's little brother whined and cried fr that part and they gave it to him to shut him up

Even someone's shitty yoda impression would be better than that kid's

But other than that, that dub-dub is AMAZING.
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"Here it is!!!", One week ago, 12:39 AM #12
CrosEL

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I just only wanted to show everyone real quick: this is what I used YEARS before Google Translate and upon coming back to it, found out it had different translations

Freedict!

It can't do sentences, but does seem to offer slightly better translations, in some cases. I'll still go look for people, but what do you think of this, as compared to Google Translate?
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One week ago, 9:34 AM #13
Damatris
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Eeh, not a fan of that one. Mostly because it will give only one version of the word regardless if it could mean multiple things. I tested it with Finnish - English and for example typing "kuusi" gives only "six" while it can actually be six or spruce/fir (or your moon but that's due grammar).

I'd recommend using webxicon as an online dictionary. It's the best one I've found so far since it gives a ton of synonyms, divides them to verbs and nouns, and even gives you definition and examples of use! And pronunciation with audio in a lot of cases.

So far I've found it really accurate and reliable due those facts. And it has good amount of languages.
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"Searching!", One week ago, 11:21 PM #14
CrosEL

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Thanks! This outa help until I find a very talkative/multilingual person! Lol!
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6 days ago, 9:36 PM #15
SMAComix

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I know that feeling when it comes to translators and being a bilingual. A lot of what google uses doesn't account for dialects and divergence and evolution of language.

Once you learn Armenian, you'll know.
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4 days ago, 3:11 PM #16
straker

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I have used Google Translate to translate simple sentences into Esperanto for my comic. But I've also done a lot of double checking on Esperanto sites to see if there are alternatives. Sure enough, I've had to second guess Google. I've found that Google Translate may or may not be 75% reliable. I've actually learned the basics of Esperanto vocabulary and grammar so I can sometimes see if Google Translate is pulling stuff out of its a@@. Unfortunately, I can't find any fluent Esperanto speakers. However, by definition, strictly speaking, if you know the background of the language, you'll realize that there are no native Esperanto speakers, either.

I'm hoping some Esperantist will read my comic and let me know where I need to correct things.
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"Human Contact?!", 4 days ago, 6:39 PM #17
CrosEL

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straker:Unfortunately, I can't find any fluent Esperanto speakers. However, by definition, strictly speaking, if you know the background of the language, you'll realize that there are no native Esperanto speakers, either.

I'm hoping some Esperantist will read my comic and let me know where I need to correct things.


I kinda know the feeling: I asked around on Facebook, for people who spoke Japanese, Danish ect... ONE Asian person answered my call and bluntly told me to use Google Translate
I'll have to search for
a (hopefully) kinder person... Or learn at least the basics of a language, like you have.

I'm hoping you find a Esperanist too, good luck: my search only showed me that people dislike Google Translate's translations, but have NO trouble telling you to use the site...

Once you learn Armenian, you'll know


And while I'm only looking for single words, I might HAVE to learn
the languages want to use... I know this now, I'm not bilingual and
trying to become that is HARD :(
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3 days ago, 11:00 PM #18
SMAComix

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That happens. I'm bilingual and I don't know all the words in Armenian. You'll get there and its okay to make mistakes. Somebody will correct you.

Faux pas happen all the time.
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2 days ago, 5:24 PM #19
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My favorite example of a google translate screwup: I looked up "dome" in Spanish and got "hazme" -- "do me" with no space between words.

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"Lol!", Yesterday, 4:33 PM #20
CrosEL

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My favorite one, was dividing the name "Amaterasu", in which NONE of the words in the name has anything to do with the goddess on the site.

I specifically remember seeing that "Ama" meant sky/heavens, ect.. "Teru" would mean "emphasis", and "Su" would meant to give name/personality/respect(?) to something that would otherwise be a object.

THIS made sense on the Wikipedia page, but curious me looked at Google Translate and... none of these has anything to do with it?! I understand some words have different meanings, but they had nothing to with her, unless she was suppose to be a "amateur terrace"?
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