Machine Translation Lets Me Down

It’s a sign of how good computers have gotten that I’m faintly offended whenever Google Translate fails to come up with something even halfway sensible. I mean, translating a blog post from one language to another is a ridiculously difficult problem, and yet they usually do a passable job. It’s only when the vanity search turns up something like this blog post in Hebrew that it fails completely, and gives a string of disconnected and incoherent words and phrases.

So, here’s to the amazing successes of Google Translate. And if anybody can tell me what in the world that blog post says about my book, I’d love to know.

8 thoughts on “Machine Translation Lets Me Down

  1. Looks like a bug in the page-translation feature. Cut and paste directly into for better results.

    Doing so for the title of the current post and the first paragraph got me this:

    Thursday, 24 November 2011

    (Theory) Netanya beach waves

    Like every time, after the dentist, we went through the pedestrian Hntniiti Hmg’oif and busy, we all – that the French love to be swallowed noisily and pensioners filling it at any time of day. We stopped at Dairy Queen in fine centering, we chose two rounds, I always chocolate + something, and he always Sherbet Strawberry + something, and we, Cbdrcno fixed to the sea.

  2. My guess is that the right-to-left writing threw the algorithm off, it does that with Hebrew. Anyhow, this fairly long post, which I haven’t read in its entirety, seems to be all about the writer’s thoughts about modern physics and his attempts to explain them to his child. Your book is mentioned in one sentence as the inspiration for the post, as the guy just finished it recently. The adjective used could be translated roughly as “wonderful” (as in full of wonders), so I guess they liked it.

  3. Looks like a bug in the page-translation feature. Cut and paste directly into for better results.

    It’s not just that it doesn’t auto-translate the page; even after pasting into Google Translate, it returns gibberish.

    Thanks, Moshe.

  4. Try pasting the url into google translate, then click on the link in the English box and the entire page is translated. I’ve found it tedious to cut and paste blocks of right to left language text.

    Even still, it is hard to completely understand what the writer is saying due to swapped word order, but if you take some liberties, I think you can get the gist.

    It seems that in the section that references your book he is commenting on how children have not yet constructed a concrete view of the world and can more easily accept concepts that adults would find counter-intuitive. He gives your book as an example of “flexible thought” comparing the imagined mind of the dog to that of a child, in that every time a dog experiences something, they look on it as if it is new.

    Google translated that paragraph as:

    Probably Out Thinking This I remembered Suddenly In I read Not Recently: “How to teach quantum physics to your dog “. In Wonderful This, Explains The author, Chad Orzl, Chad Orzel, Dog His What is Physics Quantum. Dogs They Example Extreme Of Children, Flexible The thought. Dog, Loading Orzl, He To So – so Flexible Mental And Fixed So He Able Switch All Day, That Pathway, With Owner Street, And excited Re- And sniff Enthusiastically The Them Places As This Time First Encountered Them, Thinking Maybe Today Revealed There Something New. The dog Really Alive No Opinions Prejudice. And to Understand The Access Strange Of Physics Quantum On Life, Have Be Not Fixed Thinking We used And grew up It, And think Completely Out The box.

  5. I cut and pasted only the paragraph referencing your book in and got a much better translation:

    Apparently this in mind I suddenly remembered a book I read recently: “How to teach quantum physics to your dog”. This wonderful book, explains the author, Chad Orzl, Chad Orzel, his dog, what is quantum physics. Dogs are an extreme example of children, mental flexibility. Dog, says Orzl, is up to – so flexible thinking rather than fixed so he could get through each day, the same route, with the owner on the street, and get excited again and sniff eagerly the same places as the first time he encountered them, thinking that maybe today revealed something new. The dog really live without prejudice. And to understand the curious attitude of quantum physics to life, should be fixed and we grew up thinking we used it, and start thinking outside the box.

  6. Ever so often I get a shiver and realize I am living in the future. This mainly happens reading science blogs the last few years. I remember a post by Razib Khan a while back on some of the results we can get with current analytical tools and gene sequencing, answering questions I thought were impossible.

    This post and the responses do the same thing. We are on our way to Star Trek in this area. Casually using translation tools (of course very crude now) that are getting better all the time.

  7. The Jerusalemite to the rescue.

    First a very short synopsis of the post, without the literary tone that makes it fun to read-

    The post tells of the author’s walk along the beach with his son, after a visit to the dentist. Walking along the cliff line before descending the 136 stairs to the beach proper, he noticed the arc shape of the beach below. That was a moment of revelation for him and Quantum physics sprang into his mind. Then followed a Socratic dialog with his son, demonstrating that an adjacent beach is not arc-shaped, but straight, and noticing the wave-breaker opposite the arc-shaped beach. And then, a layman explanation about the history of Quantum physics, and of interference and how it can change the shape of a wavefront passing an obstacle such as a wave breaker.

    There are two direct references to your book, so I will try to translate those two paragraphs in full-

    Probably out of this line of thought I suddenly remembered a book I read a short while ago. In the amazing book, “How to teach physics to your dog” explains it’s author Chad Orzel to his dog what is Quantum physics. A dog is an extreme example of children, the flexible of mind. A dog’s mind, claims Orzel, is so flexible and that she can pass every day along the same route with his owner in the street, and get excited anew, enthusiastically sniffing the same places as if it were the first time he ran into them, thinking that perhaps today something new may be found there. The dog literally leaves without prejudice. And to understand the strange approach of Quantum physics to life you need not to be fixed to the way of thought we are used to and grown to know and think our of the box.

    “Let’s go down the stairs”, I said, “I will explain it to you at the beach”. Going down the stairs I tried to remember how Chad Orzel explained it to his dog in his great book (I have spoken of it’s virtue, have I not?). What I remembered was one thing: a single drawing he gave there. One picture is better than a thousand words.

    Hope that helped. A small token of gratitude for the interesting stuff you’ve put here over the years for me (amongst many others) to read.

  8. Dear Prof. Orzel,
    My name is Gilad and I’m the author of this Hebrew tough post to crack. I’m very happy to directly thanking you for your wonderful book, that I’ve bought in Amsterdam.
    Oded, the Jerusalemite, did come to the rescue and done some great job translating my post. Thanks Oded.
    I know two guys that bought your book after reading my post, so these are my thanks to you.

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