In this post I will try to do my best to carry out an accurate review of Bing Translator as a Machine Translation service. Aiming to this, first of all I will introduce and explain briefly what Machine Translation consist of, and also what is Bing Translator and the way it works. Then two translated texts are shown with their corresponding original ones; one translation is from Spanish to English and the other one from English to Spanish. The reason why I have test the machine with these two languages it is just because they are the languages I master the best, so I thought I could manage myself better to make a good review. Errors committed by Bing Translator are summarized according to the field they belong to at the end of the article. The final conclusion, of course, is based on this data.
Machine Translation is an area of computing linguistic which investigates the use of software in order to translate a written text or oral speech from one natural language to one target language. At a basic level, the machine translator substitutes words from the natural language for words from the target language. However, working this way it is quite difficult to get a good translation, since, for this purpose, recognition of whole phrases and equivalents for these are needed. Yet, corpus and statistical translation techniques have turned to be of great help in this sense.
Bing Translator (which was previously known as Live Search Translator and Windows Live Translator) is a service provided by Microsoft Corporation which enables users to obtain instant translations of texts and also of entire web pages in different languages (56 languages in total, which are automatically detected once the original text is pasted). Besides, this machine translation includes two transliterations between traditional Chinese Traditional and Chinese Simplified –transliteration means to convert a text from one script to another- , thanks to Microsoft Windows International Team. One of the advantages of the service is that texts related with computing are translated by a statistical machine translation based on the syntax of Microsoft Technology. This certainly involves a high quality translation.
How does Bing Translator work?
1- Select the text and paste it on the left square, or write it down . It can have a maximum of 5,000 characters. The language will be detected, although you can select it by yourself. If what you want to translate is a webpage, then select the URL and paste it.
2- Click on the button Translate. The translated text will instantly appear on the right.
3- Moreover, on the top of the right square you can select two languages so you can have a bilingual translation, and yet, to make easier the comparison between the original text and the translated one, you can always click on the button that shows the original language and is still in the right side.
However, once the translated text has appeared, you can also:
- Send it to your e-mail address
- Hear how it is pronounced
- Select it
- Show your opinion by clicking on the “It is an appropriate translation” button or “This is a bad translation” one.
Translation from Spanish to English
Sí, cree llevar una vida plena, aunque no haya sacado un disco de canciones nuevas desde Endless wire (2006). “Me encanta construir estudios de grabación, es un buen reto para un músico. Dedico mucha energía y dinero a ayudar a gente joven o con problemas. La única ventaja de ser viejo es que puedes pasar por sabio. Y presumo de saber todo sobre cualquier tema. ¡Excepto fútbol! Cuanto más veo, menos entiendo”.
Diego A. Manrique (2014) Mi generación fue demasiado lejos. Retrieved June 11 from http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2014/06/09/actualidad/1402338187_673913.html
Yes, believed to lead a full life, although he has not released an album of new songs from Endless wire (2006). “I love building recording studios, it is a good challenge for a musician. I spend much energy and money to help young people or with problems. The only advantage of being old is that you can pass by sage. And I presume to know everything about anything. Except football! The more I see, less I understand”.
Yes, he/she believes to be living a full life, although he/she has not released a new album since Endless wire (2006). “I love building recording studios, it is a good challenge for a musician. I spend a lot of energy and time helping young people or people who may have problems. The only advantage of being old is that you can pass off by wise. And I boast that I know everything about any topic. Except football! The more I see it, the less I understand it. “
Translation from English to Spanish
“I want you and Dan and Rupert in really heavy make-up in the background of a scene in Fantastic Beasts, and I’ll join you and we’ll sit in a barroom having a laugh for an afternoon. Do you not think that would be fantastic?” she said. “We can mess around as extras in the background. And then we can see if anyone can spot us. I personally would like to be in drag, just to make sure no one can spot me at all.”
Alison Flood (2014) J.K. Rowling backtracks on Harry Potter Heresy. Retrieved June 11 from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/10/jk-rowling-harry-potter-heresy-ron-hermione
“Quiero que tú y Dan y Rupert en maquillaje muy pesado en el fondo de una escena de animales fantásticos y a unirme a ustedes y a sentarnos en un bar tomando el pelo para pasar la tarde. ¿No crees que sería fantástico?” dijo. “Nosotros podemos jugar como extras en el fondo. Y entonces podremos ver si alguien nos puede detectar. Me personalmente gustaría estar disfrazado de mujer, sólo para asegurarse de que nadie puede ayudarmeen todo.”
“Quiero que tú y Dan y Rupert aparezcáis en el fondo de una escena de Bestias fantásticas con un maquillaje muy pesado, y me uniré a vosotros y nos sentaremos en un bar echando unas risas una tarde. ¿No creéis que sería increíble?” dijo. “Podemos hacer el tonto como si fuésemos extras. Y luego podemos comprobar si alguien nos puede pillar. Personalmente me gustaría disfrazarme de mujer, simplemente para asegurarme que nadie en absoluto puede verme.”
Taking into account that in Spanish it is not necessary to specify the subject of the sentence, since the verb will indicate this to us, it is to be mentioned that Bing Translator is not able to make this difference. A good example of this can be seen in the first text.
Sí, cree (he/she) llevar una vida plena is translated as Yes, believed to lead a full live. In the English sentence we do not know who does the action, whilst in the sentence in Spanish we do know it is referring to the third person of singular. Therefore, an appropriate translation would have been Yes, he/she believes to…. /Yes, the musician believes to… The same happens with the sentence The more I see, the less I understand. In this case, the right form would have been The more I see it, the less I understand it (referring to football).
Besides, the translated sentence ¿No crees que sería fantástico?, in the second case, is incorrect too. In fact, despite the fact that in English you can refer to both tú and vosotros, the previous sentence in English mentions Dan and Rupert, so it is not coherent to use crees. The correct form would have been creéis (vosotros).
On the other hand, the machine translator also has an issue with verb tenses. For instance, and I’ll join you is translated as Y a unirme a ustedes, although not many mistakes in this same line are found.
Finally, concerning grammar, some prepositions have been incorrectly used (e.g. en maquillaje muy pesado is the literal translation for in really heavy make-up, but what it really means is con un maquillaje muy pesado.
As regards collocations (two or more words that often go together) and expressions, the translator shows clear mistakes in both translated texts I have checked.
- An English speaker would say To live a full life, and not to lead a full life.
- To mess around means hacer el tonto, and not jugar.
- To have a laugh is confused with to laugh at somebody. To have a laugh means echarse unas risas, and to laugh at smbdy. means tomar el pelo.
- Spot out is used when somebody is able to see another person among other people. For this reason, detectar is not correct; it has the same meaning but it refers to things. In Spanish you would more probably say pillar a alguien.
Besides, the machine translator falls into the trap of the so-called False Friends. Indeed, in the first text translates presumo as presume, but the correct verb in English would be to boast (+that).
Concerning the range of vocabulary, it is not poor, yet, sabio has been translated as sage, which has nothing to do with it. Sabio in English means wise.
Both texts reflect well enough the main ideas of the original texts. Likewise, it is also true that there are many mistakes concerning grammar and vocabulary, yet most of them are minor errors.
All in all, although the lack of context leads the machine to a literal translation in many cases, I consider them acceptable translations, certainly, taking into account that a machine translation and a human translation are not comparable at any level.
- Bing Translator. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 11 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Translator
- Microsoft Translator Official Page. Retrieved June 11 from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/translator/for-users.aspxx-
- Machine translation. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 11 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_translation