Lost in translation


A short while ago a popular YouTube video showed how Google Translate allowed a couple of girls to call an Indian restaurant, order in hindi, and get the correct order absolutely as required.

I decided to play that game a little further and took a sentence in english and translated it across multiple languages using Google translate. Translations were done in a chain with the last translation back to english. Taking a hint from Google’s video, I decided to continue in the same vein and order the same menu.

[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Original English”] Hello, I want to order food to my home. I want two basmati rice, Two fish curry, very hot and spicy, three of the potato samosas. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


I first translated it to Hindi, and then immediately translated it back to English for the following results:


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”English to Hindi Translation”] नमस्ते, मैं अपने घर के लिए भोजन का ऑर्डर देना चाहता हूँ. मैं दो बासमती चावल, दो मछली करी, बहुत गर्म और मसालेदार आलू के समोसे की तीन चाहते. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Hindi to English Translation”] Hi, I want to order food for your home. I basmati rice, the fish curry, very hot and spicy potato samosas to three. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]

So the reverse translation broke the chain almost immediately, however I decided to continue with my experiment. I chose to do a few jumps, choosing every second language on the list from the beginning and ending with english as the final translation.


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Hindi to Afrikaans”] Hi, ek wil om kos te koop vir jou huis. Ek basmatirys, die vis kerrie, baie warm en geurige aartappel samoesas tot drie. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Afrikaans to Armenian”] Hi, Ես ցանկանում եմ գնել սնունդ ձեր տանը: Ես basmati բրինձ, ձուկ Curry, տաք եւ կծու կարտոֆիլի samosas երեք. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Armenian to Basque”] Hi, etxean janaria erosi nahi dut. I basmatia arroza, arraina Curry, patata beroa eta pikantea samosas hiru. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Basque to Bengali”] হাই, আমি বাড়ীতে খাদ্য কিনতে চাই. আমি basmati ভাত, মাছ কারি পাউডার, গরম মসলা ও আলু samosas তিনটি. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Bengali to Catalan”] Hola, vull comprar aliments a la llar. L’arròs basmati, curri en pols de peix, la papa calenta i picant samoses tres. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Catalan to Chinese”] 嗨,我在家裡買食物。香米,魚咖哩粉,辛辣的土豆咖哩角三。 [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Chinese to Czech”] Dobrý den, koupím jídlo doma. Rýže, ryby kari, pikantní bramborové kari tři. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Czech to Dutch”] Hallo, Ik koop eten thuis. Rijst, vis curry, pittige aardappel curry drie. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


[TBS_BLOCKQUOTE source=”Dutch to English”] Hello, I buy food at home. Rice, fish curry, spicy potato curry three. [/TBS_BLOCKQUOTE]


So, even though key parts of the menu translated through (the rice and the fish curry) all context around it was lost. Not that I was expecting it to last, it is not fair to expect such clarity from machine translation, but it was fun to do.

Fourteen Fictional Foods You Can’t Have

From Wired – Fourteen Fictional Foods you can’t have, I really really want the Popplers – gladly substituted with popcorn chicken from Buddy Broaster…

You can pick ‘em, you can lick ‘em, you can chew ‘em, you can stick ‘em. If you promise not to sue us, you can shove one up your nose!”— Futurama

Wired.com (24/05/2014: Original link has been removed)

Updated link