Jan 24, 2008

translation in chat

this is the kind of thing that makes me bliss out about working at google. engineers (including one i know, the lovely and delightful sha-mayn) have been working on statistical translation of language pairs and you can see the results at Google Translate. in mid-december, they announced real-time translation in google chat and google talk. it was only today that i realized how unbelievably awesome this is -- they support 23 language pairs and, in chinese at least, the translations are incredibly idiomatic and polite. it works by inviting a translation bot to your chat, so it's as if you have a virtual translator in the room with you -- a really neat and elegant approach, i think, though it does make for inherently amusing chats since the translations aren't always spot on:

me: this also does FRENCH!!!GTranslate: 这也不代表法语!

Audrey : oh dear
GTranslate : 哦亲爱的
en2fr: Ah
me: this also does french!
en2fr: Ce ne français!
GTranslate: 这也不代表法语!
Audrey: this is ridiculous
GTranslate: 这是荒谬的
en2fr: C'est ridicule
Audrey: it's like I'm having a conversation with myself
GTranslate: 这就像我有一个谈话与自己
en2fr: C'est comme je avoir une conversation avec moi-même
Audrey: and me and me
GTranslate: 我和我
en2fr: Et moi et moi
Audrey: see the french I can understand
GTranslate: 看到法语,我可以理解
en2fr: Voir le français je peux le comprendre
Audrey: the chinese I could not
GTranslate: 中国人,我不能
en2fr: Le chinois je ne pouvais pas

full instructions and a list of language pairs is available in the google talk blog announcement about it.

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