Google Translate: Some Improvements Arrive

January 29, 2020

Google may be struggling with A B testing, but it is improving its translation capabilities.

While Google Translation is more or less accurate, depending on the language, it does have it flaws, especially when it comes to offline translation. SlashGear shares an update on the translation service “Google translate Now Offers Higher Quality Offline Translations.”

Google Translation’s offline services premiered a few years ago, but their quality cannot compare with the online counterpart. The newest update improves the offline translation service by 12% when it comes to grammar and sentence structures. Asians languages have seen improved accuracy with the update.

“Google Translate is best when used with an Internet connection, but there are times the app will prove useful in the absence of WiFi or mobile data. While traveling in a foreign country, for example, someone who doesn’t have mobile data access will find Google Translate’s offline support useful, though the results are often less accurate and polished.”

Google improved its NLP on fifty-nine languages. The old offline translation were understandable, but sounded awkward and like someone learned the language from a textbook. The new update is more grammatically correct and actually makes sense in modern vernacular languages. There’s also new offline transliteration support for ten new languages. Users who translate their own language into one of the new ten languages sees the new original script and the transliteration for accuracy. It helps people who cannot read the language’s writing by putting the sentences in the Latin alphabet.

This is useful for tourists, researchers, polyglots, and students who need to finish their foreign language homework. Now about that mythical A B testing, which is part of the data driven environment for Googlers, right?

Whitney Grace, January 29, 2020

Games Go International: New Challenge for LE?

October 12, 2019

Gamers the world over need no longer struggle to master games in a foreign tongue. The International Business Times reports, “AI-Based Emulator Will Translate Previously Untranslated Languages.” While some video games have multiple language options, the most sought-after ones tend to be available in just English, and many leading RPGs are first released in Japanese only. This new emulator taps into Google Translate to solve that problem. Writer Rishbah Jain informs us:

“A new software aims to change this equation. RetroArch emulator 1.7.8 has introduced an artificial intelligence feature which will use machine learning to master translation. It will translate the text used in the game to a language of the user’s choice. The player will get the option to see the text or get it through voice instructions. The former will disturb the gameplay, the latter won’t. It will do this using Google Translate. … The developers claim that the emulator can work with all kinds of arcade and classic consoles. Not only can it be used to translate English to other languages, but also the other way around. ‘You can set the source and target language already. How well it works is up to the translation services being used,’ the company behind the project, LibRetro says in its YouTube video on the emulator. This means that for gamers whose native language is English, they no longer need to go blind into a Japanese game.”

Jain acknowledges that setting up an emulator, which must be done before one begins playing, is a step that many gamers will skip (impatient beings that we are.) For those willing to take the trouble, though, RetroArch has posted instructions here.

Will policeware systems process the comments and emojis used in some online games’ chat functions?

Cynthia Murrell, October 11, 2019

Google Translate Continues to Improve

September 10, 2019

Google Translate is a handy tool, imperfect though it may be. Google made some cosmetic changes to the UI earlier this year, and now is rolling more substantial improvements. Pakistan’s Technology Times reports, “Google AI Translation Adds 60 New Languages.” Not only are more languages, from Afrikanns to Zulu, now included, the translate-images function has gotten a boost. Writer Sayyed Shehzer Abbas tells us:

“The prevalent tech giant Google is rolling out a significant update to the camera feature on its Translate app. The new version of the app adds support for 60 new languages. It’s great news for regular users of Google Translate, where the camera feature is fantastically useful for translating things like menus and signs. Key to the update is the integration of Google’s AI translation methods, known as neural machine translation (NMT). These models have been incorporated into Google Lens and the web version of Translate, but they are now supporting instant camera translation, too.

We noted these languages:

New languages supported in the update include: Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Estonian, Greek, Hindi, Igbo, Javanese, Kurdish, Latin, Latvian, Malay, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Samoan, Sesotho, Slovenian, Swahili, Thai, Vietnamese, Welsh, Xhosa, Yoruba, Urdu and Zulu.

We learned:

“The updated version of the Google translate app will also automatically detect what language it’s looking at, which is handy if you’re traveling in a region where multiple languages are common.”

The write-up emphasizes the importance of language translation to companies like Google. It has become a benchmark for evaluating an enterprise’s AI capabilities, and it underpins software many have come to rely on, like AI assistance, commerce, and social media. Will Translate put Google ahead of the competition?

Cynthia Murrell, September 10, 2019

Google Translate: Refactored via India and Fixed via SEO Expert

June 14, 2019

Navigate to Republic World, produced in India. The article “Google Translation of I Am Sad to See Hong Kong Become Part of China Converted the Word Sad to Happy.” DarkCyber does not know the source of this translation, nor does DarkCyber know if the information in the story is accurate. We noted this passage in the Republic World story:

Google users discovered that when people entered the phrase “I am sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” the suggested translation in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese converted the word “sad” to “happy”.

Here’s the kicker. Search engine optimization expert and now low profile Google “search” expert was allowed to state:

It was not immediately clear what caused the blunder but Danny Sullivan, an official at Google, said in a tweet “we’re looking into why we had this translation and expect to have a fix to resolve it soon”.

Yep, a fix. According to the next paragraph in the story, “The error has now been fixed.”

Fast action from the Google.

It is amazing what search engine optimization experts can accomplish.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2019

Mayochup: Why Machine Translation Can Let You Down

May 20, 2019

Short honk: DarkCyber spotted a story about “mayochup.” The word’s origin is Kraft Heinz. According to The Star:

Kraft Heinz has acknowledged an “unfortunate translation” of its latest buzzy condiment of pre-mixed mayonnaise-ketchup that has reached Canada. Mayochup, which was a crowd-sourced name, can mean something entirely different in some Cree dialects, according to linguists and Cree-speakers.

The newspaper did not spell out the translation of the Cree word. That’s okay. Google did not recognize the word, preferring to render the translation as “mayochup.” Helpful.

Is this important? To the Cree, yes. To Heinz Kraft, probably because it will cost real money to deal with the PR problem. For users of automated translation systems, if the word is a new one, the translation won’t reflect the actual meaning.

That means some high flying technologists will be mayochuped.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2019

Firefox Translation Add In

May 17, 2019

The DarkCyber team encounters information in a number of languages. For years, we relied on Google Translate, but the limits on document size proved an annoyance. has been more useful. We have an older installation of some Systran modules.

DarkCyber learned that Firefox has returned to the “translate now” territory with Translate Man. You can get an overview of the functionality of the add in in “Translate anything instantly in Firefox with Translate Man.” Translate Man uses Google’s API.

We haven’t tested the functionality of the add in in an extensive way. It did translate words and short passages in a helpful way.

The write up identifies useful features that add in delivers. Two are a translate on hover feature and a pronunciation function so you can “hear” the word or passage.

In our experience, some text requires a native speaker of the language to translate with accuracy.

Google has introduced its wonderfully named Translatotron. You can read about that innovation in “Google Unveils Translatotron, Its Speech-to-Speech Translation System.”

Now about these systems’ ability to translate the argot of insiders involved in “interesting” work in North Korea or Iran? What about making sense of emojis in clear text messages?

Someday perhaps.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2019

China: Patent Translation System

May 10, 2019

Patents are usually easily findable documents. However, reading a patent once found is a challenge. Up the ante if the patent is in a language the person does not read. “AI Used to Translate Patent Documents” provides some information about a new system available from the Intellectual Property Publishing House. According to the article in China Daily:

The system can translate Chinese into English, Japanese and German and vice versa. Its accuracy in two-way translation between Chinese and Japanese has reached 95 percent, far more than the current industry average, and the rest has topped 90 percent…

The system uses a dictionary, natural language processing algorithms, and a computational model. In short, this is a collection of widely used methods tuned over a decade by the Chinese organization. In that span, Thomson Reuters dropped out of the patent game, and just finding patents, even in the US, can be a daunting task.

Translation has been an even more difficult task for some lawyers, researchers, analysts, and academics.

If the information in the China Daily article is accurate, China may have an intellectual property advantage., The write up offers some details, which sound interesting; for example:

  • Translation of a Japanese document: five seconds
  • Patent documents record 90 percent of a country’s technology and innovation
  • China has “a huge database of global patents”.

And the other 10 percent? Maybe other methods are employed.

Stephen E Arnold, May 10, 2019

Google Translation: Getting More Intelligent?

February 7, 2019

Translation has never been easier with AI and NLP tools. It is amazing for people who cannot speak foreign languages to communicate with the assistance of translation apps, like Google Translation. While there are many translation apps on the market, Google is by far the best free one. As with many of its products and services, Google spends countless hours perfecting its language algorithms. The Verge published “Google’s Head of Translation On Fighting Bias In Language And Why AI Loves Religious Texts.”

Macduff Hughes heads Google’s translation and in the interview discusses how Google has moved from translating word by word but entire sentences. The new and smarter translation method is called “neural machine translation,” it uses machine learning, and a lot of its data comes from religious texts. One problem Google Translation faces is gender biased language. In order for translation AI to learn, it needs to be fed a lot of accurate and diverse data. These data sources, however, reflect societal biases which the AI can learn and replicate, such as doctors are male and nurses are female. The goal is to overcome these limitations so people know there is more than one way to phrase something as well as explain the differences.

Google is addressing three big bias and nuance initiatives. The first is to expand full sentence gender translation to more languages, the second is improving document translation based on context, and the third is addressing gender neutral languages. On a funnier and conspiracy based note is in 2018, when people typed nonsense words into Translate it spat back religious information. The explanation is a logical way of teaching AI:

“Usually it’s because the language you’re translating to had a lot of religious text in the training data. For every language pair we have, we train using whatever we can find on the world wide web. So the typical behavior of these models is that if it gets gibberish in, it picks out something that’s common in the training data on the target side, and for many of these low-resource languages — where there’s not a lot of text translated on the web for us to draw on — what is produced often happens to be religious.”

Translation is becoming a tool to organize more of the world’s information, according to Hughes, because it allows more people to access stuff that was in a different language. The naysayers argue that Translation provides a very shallow translation and Hughes acknowledges that. However, Translation works for basic translation and someday AI might have the skills of a professional linguist. It is not perfect, but Google Translate gets you to the train station and the bathroom.

Whitney Grace, February 6, 2019

Google Translate: A Facelift but Some Post-Op Needed

January 17, 2019

Google Translate is the go to app to figure out what people are saying in a foreign language. One of the best features is that Google Translate scans the text and can translate it, albeit a garbled version. Google Translate has gotten a makeover and Mobile Syrup spills the details: “Google Translate Web Site Gets Material Design Refresh And New Features.”

Google Translation’s face lift is part of the Material Design change. The basic design remains the same, but the text and document buttons are rounder. There are also two new blue buttons above the input box, labeled “text” and “documents.” Text is to translate the current page, while documents translated uploaded files. There is a new “History,” “Saved,” and “Community” buttons. History contains a list of previous translations, while saved opens your own custom phrasebook of saved translations. Community is for language lovers, where they can verify and view other users’ translations. However, if you have to speak two-five languages to participate.

The newest change is:

“Perhaps one of the most significant changes is a new responsive design. Adjusting the size of the window will dynamically adjust Translate’s layout. For example, if you use a smaller window, Translate will take on a more ‘mobile friendly’ layout with a vertical-oriented system. When you expand your window out, it’ll adjust back to a horizontal layout.”

The changes to Google Translate are slight, but the app could use some enhancements when handling popular words; for example, “jajillas.”

Whitney Grace, January 17, 2018

Smart Software and Clever Humans

September 23, 2018

Online translation works pretty well. If you want 70 to 85 percent accuracy, you are home free. Most online translation systems handle routine communications like short blog posts written in declarative sentences and articles written in technical jargon just fine. Stick to mainstream languages, and the services work okay.

But if you want an online system to translate my pet phrases like HSSCM or azure chip consultant, you have to attend more closely. HSSCM refers to the way in which some Silicon Valley outfits run their companies. You know. Like a high school science club which decides that proms are for goofs and football players are not smart. The azure chip thing refers to consulting firms which lack the big time reputation of outfits like Bain, BCG, Booz, etc. (Now don’t get me wrong. The current incarnations of these blue chip outfits is far from stellar. Think questionable practices. Maybe criminal behavior.) The azure chip crowd means second string, maybe third string, knowledge work. Just my opinion, but online translation systems don’t get my drift. My references to Harrod’s Creek are geocoding nightmares when I reference squirrel hunting and bourbon in cereal. Savvy?

I was, therefore, not surprised when I read “AI Company Accused of Using Humans to Fake Its AI.” The main point seems to be:

[An[ interpreter accuses leading voice recognition company of ripping off his work and disguising it as the efforts of artificial intelligence.

There are rumors that some outfits use Amazon’s far from mechanical Turk or just use regular employees who can translate that which baffles the smart software.

The allegation from a former human disguised as smart software offered this information to Sixth Tone, a blog publishing the article:

In an open letter posted on Quora-like Q&A platform Zhihu, interpreter Bell Wang claimed he was one of a team of simultaneous interpreters who helped translate the 2018 International Forum on Innovation and Emerging Industries Development on Thursday. The forum claimed to use iFlytek’s automated interpretation service.

Trust me, you zippy millennials, smart software can be fast. It can be efficient. It can be less expensive than manual methods. But it can be wrong. Not just off base. Playing a different game with expensive Ronaldo types.

Why not run this blog post through Google Translate and check out the French or Spanish the system produces? Better yet, aim the system as a poor quality surveillance video or a VoIP call laden with insider talk between a cartel member and the Drug Llama?

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2018

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