Jason Hutchens: translations

Jason Hutchens: translations

The AltaVista search engine employs a machine translation system, which they call Babelfish, to translate documents between English and French, German, Italian, Portugese or Spanish. The translation is courtesy of Systran, and isn't claimed to be brilliant. Rather, it offers monolingual folk like myself to at least grasp the gist of web pages in languages other than English.

To illustrate how far machine translation has got to go, I have written my own interface to Babelfish, which translates from English to a selected language, and then translates the translation back again. This procedure may be iterated until it stabilises, in a game of "Chinese whispers", where the final message may be much removed from the original. PLEASE NOTE that this page needs to perform two requests to AltaVista from my host, which means that response times may be slow! Enjoy, and don't tell AltaVista that I've been hacking their site!

You can also read an archive of amusing mistakes which BabelFish has made in the past.

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