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.

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