Google online translation engine has recently been upgraded to include 10 new languages, one of which is Hindi. That takes the total languages supported to 23. The newly featured languages include Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian and Swedish.
I was particularly interested to see how well the Google engine translates English to Hindi. So I tried translating a few proverbs from English to Hindi. I must say, the results weren’t very impressive, but were interesting.
As you can see most of the translations are gibberish and don’t make much sense. Of course, if you already know the English phrase that has been translated, you can pick bits and pieces of meaning from the translated version. But if seen in isolation, it would be hard for anybody to make sense of it. In fact, you could actually make a good game out of it. You could translate an English phrase (proverbs would be perfect) into Hindi in Google and then show just the translated version to your friends and ask them to ‘guess’ the English phrase. Whoever guesses the correct, wins.
But then it turns out that it isn’t all bad. I was surprised with how Google translated the second proverb, viz, ‘A bird in hand is worth two in the bush’. What Google has done is, instead of actually translating the proverb, it has returned a proverb in Hindi that virtually means the same. That’s wonderful.
I also tried translating a Hindi phrase to English. While the result wasn’t perfect, Google had done a really good job as you can see from the image below.
Basically the problem appears to be that presently the Google engine translates the words literally, without giving much consideration to the context.
The purpose of this post is not to find fault with the Google engine. I do understand that even to do what it does now, requires highly advanced technology, especially since Hindi is a language with an entirely different script from English. It’s just that in it’s present form, the translation may not be of much use to people. It could probably work well for translating individual words in English. Hopefully, over time the accuracy of the translations will improve to an extent that they can be practically useful.
Before I finish this post here is a link to read this very post in Hindi (obviously translated by Google). Enjoy.