Google Translate head games

Spot the difference:


No, I didn’t mess with anything. Yes, I did eventually realize that it was translating from “English”. The problem goes away when you switch from English to Chinese. Explanations?

8 responses to “Google Translate head games”

  1. Hans says:

    The English doesn’t contain any such words, so it assumes it’s a proper noun or something else of sorts that doesn’t need translation. No big mystery, in my opinion — it even suggest to “translate from Chinese”.

  2. Kellen says:

    I have a long-shot explanation but one that’s hard to articulate. Basically I think it’s a cross-over bug with the language selection script.

    How much/little do you have to have of the string for the error to still occur?

  3. Carl says:

    I think this is one of those issues like translating “In English class, we read War and Peace.” To translate that to another language you’d need to change the word “English” to something else (e.g. 國語).

  4. Syz says:

    @Hans, I think you missed the key difference, the fact that it “translated” 英 on the left into 中国 on the right.
    ORIGINAL: 是吧?不像这英语这二十六字母,中国这个字,一字多意思
    TRANSLATED: 是吧?不像这中国语这二十六字母,中国这个字,一字多意思

    @Kellen: Good question. Looks like if you take off the 是吧? it reverts back to not translating…
    @Carl: That sounds half plausible. But now that I start taking a look at Kellen’s question and find that the associated weirdness, I can’t make any sense of it at all.

  5. pc says:

    I think it’s purely a result of Google’s algorithm, as this formula will yield the same result:

    [any character]+ [unmixed punctuation (e.g. only Latin encoding, or only Mandarin]+ [8 or more characters, containing the phrase 英语 only once]

    (where [x]+ is one or more)

    Adding an additional 英语 will result in the correct 1-to-1 translation.

  6. pc says:

    Addendum: Doesn’t seem to happen with any other language (e.g. 法语,德语 … to Chinese).

  7. Syz says:

    pc: nice. That’s some serious Google deconstruction. Still bizarre, though, eh?

  8. Kevin says:

    It’s not just Chinese. The same thing happens when you translate “française” from English to French (sic) and “Deutsch” from English to German.

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