Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Hovercraft is Full of Eels!

Have you ever played Google Translate Ping-Pong? That’s when you pass something to be translated through Google Translate to another language, copy the result, and have it translated back into your own language. Repeat this several times and observe the gibberish that is generated.
After six passes between English and Japanese, the above paragraph was reduced to this:
“Has played a ping-pong in front of the Google translation of you! For example, if it can not be translated or Google, but you pass a copy of the translation in other languages, it has been converted to it in your own language. Repeat this a few times, will be generated. Observe the gibberish.”
It does seem to reach a point where the translation stabilizes and doesn’t change anymore. I should try passing it through a number of different languages and see what comes out.
I’ll probably use this technique in the future to create dialogue for a character who doesn’t have a full grasp of the native language of a story's main characters. 
It does highlight the fact that machine translation is not anywhere near as good as having a living person do it. A person can understand the nuances and context of a conversation far more easily than a computer can. Understanding that limitation, I think the service does a decent job. I can certainly copy text from something and have it translated well enough that I can understand what was being written.
If you are wondering where the title of this post came from, you can enjoy the source here.
I just added the Google Translate widget to my blog. You can find it on the right side of the page, just after the search window.
I did this because I’ve noticed over the months that I’ve been getting an awful lot of traffic on my blog from regions of the world that I find very surprising. I’ve seen visits from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and others. Not exactly centers of the English language. Since I was seeing so much traffic from non-English-speaking regions, it made sense to add something that might make it easier for some of these readers to read what I write.
Not to mention, it’s kind of fun seeing how my writing looks in Japanese!


  1. English-Hindi-Spanish-English-Russian-English:
    How attractive is a difficult language. If people realize that our understanding of Scripture with so many problems, maybe we will get the value and meaning of the doctrine begin to take seriously!

    Fascinating how complicated language is. If only people would realize that this is so much of the trouble with our understanding of sacred texts, perhaps we would get away from literalism and begin to take the intended teachings seriously!