Posts Tagged ‘Google Translate’

I’m always being asked questions about Wycliffe Bible Translators. It’s great: it’s my job. Sensible questions. Stupid questions. Thoughtful questions. Totally insensitive questions. But at least people are asking me questions and not ignoring me altogether.

One reasonable question is, that in the light of the wonderful Google Translate, why can’t Wycliffe just use that and get the job done quickly?

Well, there are some problems…

Aliens fail to get their friendly greetings across

Aliens fail to get their friendly greetings across

Recently however the Wycliffe UK Blog dealt with this question in a more serious way.

The first problem is that Google Translate supports just over 70 languages – but there are around 100 times that many languages spoken in the world! So it’s fantastic if you want to translate from English to French or from German to Icelandic, but not very good if you want to translate into Cemuhî, a New Caledonian language with around 2,600 speakers, or Yetfa, an Indonesian language with 1,000 speakers.

Second, the way it works is by searching for patterns of words in documents. But if no documents have ever been written in a language – as is true in many languages Wycliffe workers are involved with – it doesn’t have anything to search.

Wycliffe colleague Jutta pointed out the shortcomings of the quality of Google Translate in a comment on the Blog:

Another important aspect is the poor quality of Google Translate, even in well known languages. Unfortunately, many use it for official products not even realizing that the end result makes very little sense, because they don’t know both languages enough to notice the problems.

The Blog concludes with the realities of the Bible Translation task still challenging us:

There are still millions of people speaking languages Google Translate has never heard of, and they don’t have even one part of the Bible in their own language. Help with Bible translation.

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