Spreading Inaccurate Data Globally

Google Translate is a nice service, if one wants quick translation of simple words and phrases. It resembles an amateur encyclopedia, Wikipedia, whose main asset is a gigantic multilingual list of modern notions and personalities. But, both services are in no way vehicles for professional research activities. One has to recourse to old-school archives, libraries, interviews, excavations, and other forms of direct knowledge.

An example of Google Translate from Traditional Chinese into English.

Take a look at this example. A sentence in Traditional Chinese, 富有之謂大業, 日新之謂盛德 (Fùyǒu zhī wèi dà yè, rì xīn zhī wèi shèng dé), has been translated rather strangely: Wealth is great cause, Nissin is Shengde. Hopefully, with the help of a professional Chinese-English dictionary, we have managed to translate the sentence more or less accurately: Wealth is a great cause, constant progress is a splendid virtue. So, Google Translate adversely affects non-English translations too, because other languages here usually base their translations on English interpretation. Therefore, the aforementioned wrong translation has been diligently repeated in other languages.

For instance, an important event in Chinese history, 長征 (Chángzhēng), has been correctly translated into English as Long March, i.e., retreat of the Chinese Red Army in 1934-1935. However, the Kazakh translation of the same notion, Ұзын наурыз (Uzın nawrız), is wrong. Because, the Kazakh one designates Long March not as a protracted military expidition, but as a prolonged month. Instead of direct Chinese-Kazakh translation, Google Translate puts an English intermediary between the two languages. Let me cite another example of an erroneous interpretation. A Latin pronoun cuique (“each“) has been funnily translated as “each school“. Besides, Latin pronunciation by Google Translate strongly resembles Italian way of speaking, which is also not correct.

Another shortcoming of Google Translate is the presence of Esperanto — an artificial language. This constructed language has made no contribution to world heritage whatsoever. On the other hand, an ancient language of Sanskrit is absent here. But, many literary monuments of India were written in this language and it has made a conspicuous influence on other cultures as well. All in all, machine translation once again has shown its limitations through this service. Genuinely profound translation and interpretation can be carried out only by well-educated human beings.

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