Translating blog posts

Once in a while someone will translate one of my blog posts. For example, here is a Chinese translation of Just in case versus just in time and here is a Spanish translation of Cosines and correlation.

I’m honored that anyone would take the time to do this. If you’d like to translate one of my posts, please just link back to the original. You’re welcome to post the translation on your site, or let me know and I’ll host the translation on my site.

I experimented with adding a Google Translate widget to some of the most popular static pages on my site. I asked a few people for feedback on the translations of PowerShell Cookbook and R for Programmers. The most positive comment I got was “better than nothing.” Comments ranged from “strained” to “painful.” So apparently Google isn’t going to eliminate the need for manual translations anytime soon.

Update: Alessandro Gentilini has translated Estimating the chances of something that hasn’t happened yet into Italian.

Update: Programmers without computers translated into Chinese

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7 thoughts on “Translating blog posts

  1. Some are splogs, too (spam blogs created via cheaply begotten software to make ad revenue by ripping off thousands of blogs at once). One thing to do is hide a link back to your blog in every post (the body of the entry itself). That way, even if you get splogged, at least they help your page rank, and you won’t get blacklisted because it’s your post.

  2. Do you think automatic translation is worse for more technical items?

    I’ve read many auto-translated general news items and found them pretty solid, at least measured from the quality of the English. Unfortunately I can’t say whether the meaning of the originals were maintained though.

  3. One problem is that sometimes translation software will translate too much. For example, it may see a programming language keyword and translate it as if it were prose. You’d think translators would assume that text inside <code> tags should be left alone, but they don’t, unless you add the class="notranslate" attribute.

  4. @Craig

    “I’ve read many auto-translated general news items and found them pretty solid.”

    Can you point to any news site in a foreign language that Google translates into “solid English”? I think we have to differentiate between just getting the idea out of a news bite, and actually reading prose.

    My experience is that you can often get the overall idea. Other times, the translation makes no sense at all. However, what is always true is that critical (non-human-like) mistakes are made repeatedly, every 2-3 sentences. These make it painful to read significant documents that were automatically translated.

  5. There is considerable demand for technical translators still. I saw a request on a numerical analysis email list from a publisher basically begging for translators who know mathematics.

    When I was a youngster in college a popular topic was the vast quantity of technical publication which never gets translated into English. At the time the most alarming case was Japanese publications. I don’t know about nowadays.

    FWIW, webpages run through a translator used to evade blocking software. A good friend worked at a private IT company who didn’t want their employees communicating in shareholder forums and tried to block their access. Translating the page from Chinese to English resulted in a perfectly readable page which wasn’t blocked.

    In my experience, auto-translations into English are terrible, but better than nothing. For example the homepage for the successor organization to the KGB can be read in Google translation from Russian to English, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it for anything important. Same goes for Chinese and Japanese, although these are even worse, frequently being unreadable.

    And I love the game of round-trip auto-translation. An oldie, but a goodie.

  6. Machine translation (like what you can do with Google and lots of WordPress widgets) is great for quick messages and a general understanding of content, but a genuine human translation of your content can help you connect with new markets! For lots of bloggers, the ability to communicate with followers who wouldn’t otherwise comment or share their posts, is invaluable!

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