International Blogging with Babelfish

Blogging is international.

What you write about today might very well appear on a blog that is written in another language, and you shouldn’t be afraid of joining in the conversation even on a blog written in a language you have no hope of understanding normally.

As an example a highly popular Russian blog linked through to me from a review they did on Google Reader.

I was interested in what they were saying about Google Reader, and how they were referencing my blog. It could after all be something complementary, or just as easily “This idiot Andy Beard…”.

So I went to Babelfish and used it to read the blog post. I didn’t use the Google Translate tool, because it doesn’t cover this language pair yet.

Now I am very used to untangling machine translated documents into my native tongue. There are always errors with machine translation, and you should never rely on it to translate accurately into a foreign language. It is useful if you are translating into your native tongue, and are aware of the many technical terms that might be used in a document and that might be translated as garbage.

By doing this, I was able to take part in the discussion on a blog I couldn’t understand, and as quite often happens, the owner of the blog appreciated the trouble I took to take part.

The quality of foreign blogging is often much higher than English language blogs, because there is less rush to get the news out before the competition.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Andy,

    Nice idea. I had thought about using babel to translate my page, and have the multiligual thingamabobbie from a recent fire sale on my to look over list, but had not really thought of using Bable to read and thus get in on foriegn blog conversations. I’ll have to give this a go next time I land on one.

  2. Elena Temnova says

    >>>Now I am very used to untangling machine translated documents into my native tongue. There are always errors with machine translation, and you should never rely on it to translate accurately into a foreign language. It is useful if you are translating into your native tongue, and are aware of the many technical terms that might be used in a document and that might be translated as garbage.

  3. Elena Temnova says

    In fact, translation of special terms is at the same time a soft spot of MT systems, and – it’s paradoxal – their strong point. If you take a “raw” MT system and try to translate a special text, you will see someting absurd. But using special dictionaries (many MT systems allows to add words and collocations into user dictionaries), you will see that MT can work. Special terms can change from “enemies” of MT to its “friends” – because, usually, a special term has a fixed meaning and, as consequence, a fixed translation in the target language, and substitution of one word by another is the most easy task for a computer.

  4. Andy Beard says

    Elena I fully agree with you. In the machine translation software I helped publish many years ago, we also included special modes for translating different types of documents, such as legal, medical, scientific, and in each case a special dictionary was used.
    Unfortunately, such control over database usage isn’t widely available for website translation tools, especially those that are provided free of charge.

    When we first launched the software, we actually had some bad press. A radio station used it to translate a Polish document automatically into English, and then back the other way, and read out the result suggesting it was a “typical example” of the translation possible.

    Obviously such software is not intended to be used in that manner. The same version of the software allowed me to take the Polish manual, and as someone with a very limited understanding of Polish, create a well written English version, better than the poor efforts from professional (but native Polish speaking) translators.

    I found it easier to translate from Polish, than rewriting often very poor quality “stilted” professional translations full of mistakes.

  5. says

    Check out Angsuman’s Translator Plugin Pro for wordpress to add machine translation to you own blog and give your foreign readers a one-click solution…

  6. Andy Beard says

    I actually own rights to some very good translator software, and the right to adapt it to a WordPress plugin.

    However there are quite a few dangers in providing such a product I need to look into, because you might not legally be allowed to publish a translated copy of 3rd party content.

    If it requires clicking and provides output enclosed by javascript so it can’t be parsed by search engines, it might be fully legitimate.

    If it provides a cached version that is search engine readable at a later date, it might be a breach of copyright.

  7. hansstrahl says

    Good idea. But it is a little bit complicated for the readers.

    If you want to change your current blog into something that can be read by people from all over the world, you can make their reading much easier by installing the WordPress Global Translator Plugin.