SSi Forum

Daily fun with Google Translate


#1

A few months ago I really wanted to read the content of a site in Welsh, whose official English version home page stated:
“Yeah, it’s still mostly in Welsh. Luckily, Google Translate now exists, so you can get the gist through that.”

Yes, sure. :rolling_eyes:

However, to be honest, I have to be grateful to translation fails because they inspired me to find a way to really learn more Welsh - and ultimately brought me here.
And of course they often make me laugh. Today’s gem: :joy:


Funny Google Translate Error
#2

It might be worth trying small case letters. Google translate may assume that your capital letters mean that the word is special and does not need translating.

Strangely, I find that Google translate works better with longer passages than short phrases. It seems that their algorithm makes clever use of context.


#3

Oh you’re right, it’s capital letters’ fault this time.

But I can assure you that my previous attempts to use it to translate even full pages from sites - were quite a failure and quite hilarious anyway! :smiley:


#4

To be honest, I don’t trust google translate for complete sentences, especially where there are grammar and mutation issues, but think it can often work okay when used just like a dictionary for individual words.
Interestingly, if you translate a single word into Welsh, you will usually get the word out with its soft variation as the next-best translation underneath.

I think one of the dangers of using it as a learner is having no idea whether each individual translation is accurate or not - but then, if you’re using it and you already know whether the translation is accurate or not, then you probably didn’t need to use it in the first place!


#5

This sort of Thing is called Scymraeg I think


#6

In case of interest:

You can turn ‘vocab’ on in the top-right if that makes it easier to understand, or here’s a relatively similar article written in English instead (I promise it isn’t the same one but Google Translated):


#7

Thanks for the links!
I guess I’ll start with the English article, though, and then take a few days to try and read the one in Welsh that seems a bit too complicated for my level. :dizzy_face:

However this VOCAB thing is amazing! I’ll definitely try to read articles using that - and I think it may be also helpful to build up some vocabulary!

More in general, to be fair, Google translate (and similar) come up with hilarious results from and to every language - it’s just (obviously?) worse with less common ones.

For example, two weird translations from Italian to English proudly displayed on signs I saw recently (just to mean - even widespread languages in the world are not immune) :

“The sole cover” on a parking entrance.
“No cover” on a menu outside a restaurant.

(it’s slightly OT, but I’d be curious to hear what English speakers expect to get in that parking and restaurant!)


#8

Though it can be handy for looking up those words that you recognise when you see them but can’t quite bring them to mind. (Passive versus active vocabulary.)

Having said that, I mostly use Google translate to get the gist of a piece of text in a language I don’t speak.


#9

“The sole cover” has me completely mystified, but “No cover” is comprehensible - I think it would be better English as “No cover charge”, though. (I assume we’re talking about the practice of having a charge for bread, water, etc. before you even order anything off the menu. The thing is, a cover charge is actually quite unusual in Britain, so some English speakers might still not understand it anyway.)


#10

About the restaurant: I’ve never been charged for cover outside of Italy. So I was wondering if a foreigner can guess what it is - since “cover” alone has quite a few different meanings. I’m glad to hear the correct translation, by the way!

About the parking: it was supposed to mean “covered parking”, basically. But in the original sentence they had included “sun” - it’s a town on the seaside where tourists go in the summer. In Italian sun is “sole” and something went wrong! (probably because “sole” is also an English word). :smiley:


#11

I assumed that ‘No cover’ meant that the menu itself didn’t have a front or back cover, and would have been totally confused if I had turned to the front or back and found some thicker pages.
So it turns out you can also learn some English on here too (cover charge)!


#12

“The sole cover” on a parking entrance.

If you let me know what the corresponding Italian phrase was, I might be able to suggest something.

There will obviously be some “hilarious” results from Google as, indeed, there would be from a qualified human translator. As i mentioned above, the algorithm that Google uses depends not only on dictionaries but also on context, which is why I have found it much more effective on longer passages than short phrases.

I usually use Google translate via the web rather than an app and I navigate to the actual Google translate (UK) Page rather than the box that appears at the top of the search list because it offers more options, to help you make sensible choices… If you click on the offered translation, for instance, it should open a drop down list giving alternatives. If you hover over any of these, it should “back translate” the word or phrase.

You can, of course, sign up and help to improve the translations. This would be especially important in lesser used pairs of languages.

Personally, I often use Google translate and find it a very handy, miraculous resource which will improve as time and technology permit. I agree with those who suggest, however, that it may not be useful for people who are in the early stages of learning a language.


#13

Its main purpose id probably to allow people to translate pages/paragraphs from any other languages into their own.
In this case it should be easier to detect major mistakes and weirdnesses - and you can still get at least a vague idea of what’s being said.

By the way I never meant to say that it’s not a good/interesting resource - just that you must use with caution and I often have great laughs thanks to it! :smiley:

p.s. I forgot the original sole cover sentence. But I do have a photo somewhere - I’ll post it someday (maybe along with one of the funniest menus ever from an Italian restaurant in Scotland. That was taken long before google translate - so, yes, also human translators can be wrong. :wink:


#14

I was doing a bit of speech at a Welsh Memes for Independence meetup at the Eisteddfod last week and I at the start I went…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks for being here today. For those of us who are Welsh speakers, I have prepared a speech with the aid of Google Translate…is my mic still working? Arholiad, arholiad, 1, 2, 1, 2”

It took a second or two, but everyone did slowly start dying of laughter…


#15

I was at the Oceanarium in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago. All the information was posted in Portuguese and English, and for the most part the English read quite well, but the above talk of ‘sole’ reminded me of the information on flatfish in general. Apparently their eyes “move to a new address” when one moves to a different position as they mature. That had me giggling for a while :joy:


#16

My favourite item on a very local menu was “Vegetarion Chilli con Carne” which, I tried to convince the restaurant owner, meant “Vegetarian Chilli with Meat”. He didn’t believe me, though. :laughing:


#17

I’m not sure that ‘chilli sin carne’ would sell as well though. :joy:


#18

I was looking at some Cyw stuff for my daughter today and Google Translate (it did the whole page) gave me this sterling, if slightly ominous, translation…


#19

Yikes! :scream: :slight_smile:


#20

Yep, that’s genuine, it’s quite a song. I love the guitar solo after middle 8. Killer!