Translate this! Fānyì zhège!

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I was poking around last and found myself using Google’s translator. Once upon a time I used to use Babelfish, but in recent years, Google translator has seemingly become more convenient. I’d normally only use it to translate the odd Chinese character, or sometimes to translate entire articles on the Tian Yi Middle School’s website, just keeping up to date with the goings on at the school since our departure.

The translators themselves have always been pretty average. It’s near on impossible to convert entire sentences as there are simply too many structural and grammatical differences between English and Chinese. While translating individual words is mostly fine, sentences come out as absolute garble. It is better than nothing though, and you can usually get the general gist of a sentence.

Last night however I noticed that the Google translator must have received a recent Chinese overhaul. It used to only give you the English-> Character translation, either Simplified or Traditional. It now actually gives you the English-> Pinyin translation, along with an actual audio version you can listen to. I have to say, this little addition is freakin awesome!

I know a lot of Chinese words and am constantly looking for ways to expand my overall knowledge. This translator lets me not only reaffirm things I already know, but add to them. In a way it answers questions I have without needing to specifically bring up a dictionary – and/or ask a Chinese person.

While it’s still not flawless, if you break down sentences so that they are quite simplistic, the results so far have been quite accurate. For example – I already know that bored is wu liao. Plugging in I am bored gives me the correct Wǒ wúliáo, giving me the tones and letting me hear it. Very very cool.

Hi my name is Marcus – Nǐ hǎo wǒ de míngzì shì mǎ kù sī. Not that I have a Chinese name(yet!) but that looks pretty damned accurate to me. Colour me impressed 🙂

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4 Responses to “Translate this! Fānyì zhège!”

  1. Asia-view Says:

    Yes, that’s true, Google translator is improving each day, and from time to time adds new features like this. Is great because it helps to understand webpages in chinese.

  2. Marcus Says:

    I haven’t tested it on website translations yet. I’ll have to find something suitably Chinese and give it a crack. The Tian Yi website is alright, but it’s so segmented it’s difficult to understand.

  3. Tom Says:

    I use google translate to translate things daily. Could be emails from my Colleagues in China, or a news article.

    It really lacks at translating Cantonese, especially slang. For mandarin its quite good, but misses some things. When you break it down word by word its even worse as Chinese is built on the groups, not just individual words 🙂

    Most Simple Example: 小心.
    Word by word:
    小: Small
    心: Heart
    Real Translation: Be Careful.

  4. internet marketing Says:

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