Adventures in Language: Google Translate

Is Google Translate any good? You can be the judge in this snippet from Google+. There is a prolific and interesting poster who writes only in French. This individual posts in limited mode, so I won’t reveal the name. My French is abysmal. I can read/write better than speak, but even the reading/writing is painstakingly dredged from college classes. So Google Translate is essential.

This is the French version of the post:

Mardi le 23 octobre 2012…Philosopher s’est s’écarter au sens de travailler à l’écart, par définition, nous accomplissons ici une autre mission…Nous laissons couler les syllabes et les consonnes liquides, dans un vieil estomac putride, celui de l’enfant mal ferré pour l’avenir…Moi…!!

And in Google Translate:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 … Philosopher has spread within the meaning of work in isolation, by definition, we do another mission here … let us run the syllables and consonants liquid in an old stomach putrid, the child’s poorly shod for the future … I …!

Clearly something is lost in the translation, which is extremely literal, and yet something is gained through this ineptitude. There’s a charmingly direct quirkiness in this rendition that more than makes up for the inelegance of the translation. It makes me wonder about my interlocutor’s mental processes and how they differ from my own.

I would like try an experiment, if any competently bi-lingual readers will offer their services. Here is the previous paragraph translated into French:

Clairement, quelque chose se perd dans la traduction, ce qui est extrêmement littérale, et pourtant quelque chose est acquise grâce à cette ineptie. Il ya une bizarrerie charmante direct dans cette interprétation qui fait plus de place pour l’inélégance de la traduction. Je me demande sur les processus mentaux mon interlocuteur et comment ils diffèrent des miennes.

Does it sound strange to a competent French speaker? I’m curious to know.

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Language: Google Translate

  1. This is a really interesting idea. Unfortunately my French isn’t good enough to be able to translate properly. But I would love to see how it turns out. Google Translate is annoyingly literal—I’ve often wondered why they didn’t program in the most common idioms etc for at least the most frequently translated languages. Still, it can be fun to see how the literal translations turn out.

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