Yahoo translation fail

Allen from the Wave Behind blog translated my blog post Just in case versus just in time into Chinese. I appreciate that Allen went to the trouble of doing the translation. I can’t read Chinese, but people who can told me he did a good job.

Mark Biek pointed out the quality of the Google and Yahoo translations from Chinese back into English. The Google translation is awkward but understandable. The Yahoo translation, however, is a total failure. First of all, the translation is illegible in Firefox:

Using Internet Explorer 8, the text is legible, but it doesn’t make sense:

The two screen shots focus on different parts of the text. I chose a swatch near the top of the Firefox version where the text was most illegible. I chose the IE8 swatch to showcase the phrase “the smelly spicy jiao raccoon dog” that Mark had pointed out.

5 thoughts on “Yahoo translation fail

  1. In Japanese, Google translate is certainly better than Yahoo. But best – by far – is Excite’s translation service (http://www.excite.co.jp/world/english/). I bet that if you looked for a translation service geared specifically towards the Chinese market you’ll probably find a better alternative for that too.

  2. I think you are too harsh on Yahoo. Only using your post as evidence, I have to conclude that one is incoherent and illegible and the other is incoherent and legible. However, if they are both incoherent, what’s the difference?
    Also, the Firefox interface problem is independent of the quality of translation.
    (I recently tried to translate a Japanese passage and none of the available websites work well enough for me to even understand whether the piece is critical or appreciative, let alone getting individual sentences right.)

  3. I didn’t mean this to be a general assessment of Yahoo, just an amusing anecdote. However, I’ve been disappointed with Yahoo’s translation before.

  4. You write so many articles on proper reasoning, proper testing, best methods, etc. Advocating for proper testing and the like. But you “deliberately” chose a swatch near the top in Firefox to showcase its illegibility. And not so in IE. Sounds like a biased sample to me.

    Two, do you know with certainty that Yahoo and Google dont do decent translations into Chinese? Unless you read Chinese, you cant know. The problem (could) arises when you translate from Chinese back into English, which is your verification of a bad translation. But you cant know the Chinese version was or was not bad unless someone tells you.

    I wonder how versed the programmers of these translators were when they designed the program. A native English speaking programmer may not be so inclined to program it properly. Perhaps more concerned with getting it into Chinese than getting it back.

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