The Economist concurs with some of my thoughts on Machine Translation

It is always gratifying to see media you trust, think about the same issues.

I had written some posts (1, 2) on problems with Google’s machine translation  and responses to some people who responded to me here.  The gist of these arguments was:

  1. Google uses English as an intermediate language to translate between many language pairs
  2. It does not declare that it does this
  3. It has vested interests in hiding this fact – getting ad-words users to advertise in multiple languages.

My conclusion was that machine translation is a successful experiment but not ready yet to be rolled out as an institution.

Interestingly the Economist highlights some of these issue here in a post appearing weeks after my own.

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The whole point is ‘Lost in Translation’

Web content in vernacular language will work best when it is focused on being in a day to day language, than some words which are technically correct but rarely used

Harsh Taneja – (संपादित करें) – 4 संबंधित साइट – 71 अनुसरणकर्ता
1 और व्यक्ति ने आपका अनुसरण प्रारंभ कर दिया है!

This is the first page of my Google buzz when I made Hindi the primary language of my Google account.
For starred emails they use the words Tarankit.
For saving an email as draft – they say “Abhi Sahejen” . Something as simple as forwarding an email they say “aagroshit karien”.

I consider Hindi as my first language, and have studied it all the way through high school. Yet most of the terms they use were new to me. I could only continue to do these operations, as I have used Gmail long enough in English and know what all the buttons do. Agreed I am no scholar of Hindi, but am not challenged either? Are scholars of Hindi expected to use the internet in Hindi or lay people who are often deprived of any kind of education beyond high school.

Why can’t forward be simply “auron ko bhejo” , starred mail be ” nishan lagao” and so on so forth ?
Ever heard that internet content in local language can help make it more mass. But then it should be the language of the masses and not something that only Hindi teachers will understand.