Google Goggles Language Translation
With the internet being increasingly used by people all over the world, some hope it will be the medium that can unite us all. However, one challenge remains and that is the language barrier. It is without a doubt the hardest challenge in history. Wars have been fought due to miscommunication. Now, the internet giants are fighting head to head to create the best translation tool in the world. Bing Translator, Google Translate and Yahoo Babel Fish are battling it out.
Google has raised its game by introducing translation software within Google Goggles. They announced this new feature on their Official Google Mobile Blog recently. Google Goggles is in a nut shell an application that allows you to take a photo of an unknown place or item, and will use it to compare with the information on the internet. It will then return to you all the related information of that unknown place or item. What Google is doing now is to enable you to take a photo of a Spanish text in the real world, and then show you the translated text (e.g. in English). Imagine the dilemma you faced when you are at a Polish restaurant with a Polish language-only menu. So, with this new function, you will be able to point your phone camera to the menu, and get the English translation back in seconds. How cool is that?
Why We Are So Frantically Looking For a Language Translation Solution?
All of us have longed for universal translators such as those seen in Star Trek. Most of us believe if we can understand each other perfectly, we will have lasting peace. Many scientists have been working on the technology to make it possible. Research has been going on for a long period of time, but we are not getting any closer. Recently, American language researchers predict that we will have a translation program that will understand what we say in the next 10 years. However, the program will only be capable of translating a specific field of subject such as tennis or driving directions. The technology is still based on statistics. What it means is that the program will compare what you have just said to the million entries in its database. From there, it can narrow down to identify what you really meant. So I guess the Star Trek universal translators will have to wait for a while longer.
The next question: Why is it so hard to create a technology that can translate perfectly? The answer lies, firstly, in how we use the language. The use of language is always changing. It is this constant evolution of language that makes it almost impossible to create such software. It remains possible if we can create an Artificial Intelligence that is on par with the human brain. Secondly, is the use of grammar. Words can be put together in millions of combinations. Different combinations also carry different meanings. That is the reason why you always get some sentences that make no sense from the internet translation software. However, when it comes to the single word translation, the software is absolutely spot-on. Therefore, the lesson here is that the translation software is a marvelous dictionary, but not at all great in interpreting sentences.
A Little Translation Experiment
In order to prove my point, I have devised a little test. I used the following sentence as the original text "This article is about how translation software is being used to transform our world in ways we cannot imagine."
Este artículo trata sobre cómo el software de traducción está siendo utilizado para transformar nuestro mundo en formas que no podemos imaginar.
Translates back into - "This article is about how the translation software is being used to transform our world in ways we can not imagine."
Este artículo es sobre cómo el software de traducción se está utilizando para transformar nuestro mundo de maneras que podemos imaginar.
Translates back into - "This article is about how the translation software is being used to transform our world in ways that we can imagine."
Yahoo Babel Fish
Este artículo está sobre cómo el software de la traducción se está utilizando para transformar nuestro mundo de maneras que no podemos imaginarnos.
Translates back into - "This article is envelope how the software of the translation is being used to transform our world of ways that we cannot imagine to us."
Accordingly, you can see that Yahoo Babel Fish is seriously flawed in the grammar. Bing Translator is giving us the wrong and totally contradictory meaning. However, Google Translate did quite ok except a spelling error. So, who is the winner? I will let you decide whether you will entrust all of your business translations to the internet translation software.
Unfortunately, the solution that exists and has a proven track record is the human translator. This should be perfectly clear as the United Nation still employs thousands of professional translators to act as the bridge between nation leaders. If you want to get a translation done properly, humans will almost certainly be part of the equation.