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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LingualLightning

Don't use Google Translate for Latin: a couple humorus examples

I tried using Google Translate to translate some basic English sentences into Latin, as I have heard that it's a very laughable experience. Indeed it is.

Original English: "Does this thing work to translate stuff into Latin?" Translated Equivalent: "Non opus est ad hanc rem in latine interpretari supellectilem?" Translated Back into English: "There is no need to interpret the reference to this matter in the furniture in Latin?"

I then tried translating the same sentence, with one minor word change.

Original English: "Does this thing work to translate things into Latin?" Translated Equivalent: "Non opus est ad hanc interpretari quae in Latine!" Translated Back into English: "There is no need for this to be translated into English!"

The last example seems almost intended, but humorous nonetheless. Just thought I'd share this. If you don't think it's interesting, please explain why in the comments instead of downvoting. Thanks!

September 18, 2019

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidPNash

This discussion goes into greater detail into the issues with GT and Latin: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33989448

TL;DR -- GT flails pretty badly if your input does not match something word-for-word (or very close) in its language corpus. For Latin, its corpus is things like the Vulgate and classical literature, as you might guess, but that means that perfectly mundane sentences in English like "don't put the cat on the table" give you total garbage.

OTOH, I was amused to discover Google's source corpus now includes Monty Python, which also illustrates the "word-for-word match" limitation beautifully:

"Romans go home!" -> "Romani ite domum"

"Cats go home! -> "Feles vade in domum tuam"

(John Cleese voice:) "Cats, one of you go! Into your house...?" (Graham Chapman voice:) It says "Cats go home!" ...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

The issue could be solved if they had more contributors, they recrut on Google Latin, real users to help translating bits of sentences.

https://translate.google.com/community?source=mfooter#en/fr


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tembo441

Google translate really doesn't work at all for Latin. I read somewhere that it's because the basis of all Google Translate languages is based on United Nations documents that are translated into multiple languages by experts, and Google uses those translations. Unsurprisingly, very few UN documents ever get translated into Latin...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanRankin1

WOW that's very interesting!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Google always translate from English, every language is translated from English. It creates terrible losses and changes in the meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LordEragon05

I'm going to see what this sentence comes out as "I bet this won't work once I translate it back." It translated to. "Ego bet hoc ne operari simul ut eam interpretari." Which translates back to. "I bet he can not at the same time to be able to do this work by interpretation is to practice it."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tim1724

Yes, Google Translate is completely worthless for Latin. Even the most well-known Latin texts fail spectacularly.

Just now I tried typing in the lyrics to Adeste Fideles. It's amusing to watch the translation change radically as you type:

"adeste" -> "Adeste" (I checked and it knows "adesse" but it is unable recognize the imperative… this doesn't bode well.)

"adeste fideles" -> "all Ye Faithful" (ok, clearly the song has been included in its training material but where did the verb go?)

"adeste fideles laeti" -> "Heart happy" (what the??)

"adeste fideles laeti triumphantes" -> "go, faithful, pleased and triumphant"

ok, so at this point it's mostly right… except "adeste" is the exact opposite of "go"! Oops!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidPNash

Here's what happens to these if you make one tiny change: capitalize the first letter.

"Adeste": "White" (Um, what?) "Adeste fideles": "All Ye Faithful" (No verb!) "Adeste fideles laeti": "Adeste Fideles" (Not only no verb, no actual translation of any sort...) "Adeste fideles laeti triumphantes": "Go, faithful, pleased and triumphant" (Hey, there's a verb now! The same wrong one as before!)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yves23A

I already remarked that it is also true with translations with Turkish involved. The translation is sometimes just incomprehensible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

Oh, just Latin to English fails pretty badly. The dative and genitive cases in particular can generate some pretty entertaining examples. :D

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


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