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https://www.duolingo.com/chubbard

Per-Sentence Translation Comments Needed

chubbard
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The topic of today's tirade is this. There should be some way for translators to add a note about the material they are translating that is visible to other translators working on the same material, and this capability needs to be implemented on a sentence-by-sentence basis, not just a general-purpose, article-wide comment section like exists today. I would recommend that this be done by adding a "comments" list for every sentence. Right now every sentence has an associated list of candidate translations. That concept should be expanded so that every sentence also has an associated list of comments about the material. The comments list would be visible to everyone working on the associated sentence, but comments themselves would be optional. Translators could add comments when they needed to, or just ignore the field if they didn't.

Now let me give you some examples of why this feature is so desperately needed, and why it is so important to implement this (or something like this) if you want to generate high quality translations.

I was recently given the following "sentence" to translate...

"Eine weitere interessante Möglichkeit ist das sogn."

which I translated as...

"Another interesting feature is the so called"

(yes, not strictly literal, but a good match given the larger context of the full article).

There are two problems here. First, the original sentence is not a complete sentence at all. The parser has been confused by the period following the word "sogn". This "sentence" is really just the first half of the original sentence. Nobody caught this. In this situation, it would have been nice to be able to add a comment to warn future translators that this was only a half-sentence and should be translated together with the second half. The second problem is that the word "sogn" in the original is an abbreviation for "so genannt" meaning "so-called". Nobody caught that either. Again, the ability to attach a comment to the sentence with that bit of information would help future translators working on the material to be successful. Unfortunately, in this particular example, because people didn't understand the problems with this half-sentence, my suggested translation was thrown on the trash heap, and the current best translation is...

"A further interesting possibility is the suction."

which doesn't even make sense within the context of the article. Now you might think this is a pretty isolated case, and doing all the software and database work required to implement per-sentence comment lists would be heavy overkill to solve a problem that rarely happens. Unfortunately, problems like this are not rare! I wouldn't be wasting my time writing this if I didn't see this kind of problem over and over again while working on the translation material. I can think of several more examples off the top of my head, but I suspect you don't really want to see them here just now.

But the bottom line is this. There are many, many situations where the original material contains an idiom, an abbreviation, a bit of slang, a cultural reference, etc. that will need to be translated in an unusual way. It would be a great benefit to beginning language learners if more advanced learners could point these things out to them. It would also be a benefit to Duolingo since higher quality translations would result.

5 years ago

9 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/tylrmurphy
tylrmurphy
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This is something we plan on trying.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KarlDerGrosse

I made another thread broaching this very same problem. It seems that most of people doing the translating have either no idea what they're doing (verbatim translations for the most points), or they have yet to build up their grammatical structure. Some of these English translations are just horrendous...

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HoneyOssan

This is especially relevant in topics where the language does things that would not occur in English. I was just fiddling with a translation where a country was referred to as 'she' and everyone was translating it as such -- when what they really meant was 'France'. I don't think anyone caught onto that. Also this would be useful not only for slang but for anything involving technical terms or any specialized areas of expertise.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maxnwil

Or a way to let other translators know how you interpreted different slang terms; I just did a sentence that had the slang article - 'ne -, so I put an article there. I moused over the suggested translation and it said "N", so even the "best" translation had a random "N" in the middle of a sentence.

C'mon team. It's not that complicated. ;D

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lenkvist
Lenkvist
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Nice to have a separate topic for this. I support your idea and I discussed something similar in the topic on the possibility of a "none of the above" option.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RAMOSRAUL

I agree that much improvement is need. I would split what you said in two problems. One is the way we are given the sentences to be translated. The errors you mention are common. The second one is the continuity... or lack of continuity. It is obvious that if we translate word by word, the verbatim translation is just a mess. Furthermore, many times, sentences need to be in context, otherwise people just get lost. For instance, there might be an easy sentence after a difficult one, which is not translated. The easy gets translated pretty quick, but whatever is before passes completely ignored

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aestatis

I've been poking around the translation section now and I certainly agree. I still need a lot of work on German myself, but when translating and choosing translations I always err on the side of translations that aren't clunky, but I'm sure I'm not always correct.

A discussion would certainly be nice for slang terms or words untranslated by Duolingo. for example, one article had a title that Duolingo said meant "Blight". Though the article clearly involved cars from a picture, I still chose Blight has my translation because well... what other idea did I have?

However, according to the suggested results the word actually meant traffic jam. Oops. I mean, that is the word that got selected in the end but I'm sure not all sentences are so lucky.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hkysonjr
hkysonjr
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Good point!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MnEric

The comment is critical. I jsut did one on ancient Rome and some old Roman words for nouns were included. These didn't have a real translation without a google search on the Latin meaning. Everyone was literally translating the wealthy women wore "mule"s without heels on their feet. "Mule" in latin is footwear, which clearly made sense in the larger context.

5 years ago