Third Review: Machine Translator

In the following review, I have translated four texts with the MT  Google Translate. The main purpose of this review is to show the large variety of mistakes that a MT can make.

Firstly, I have included the original text and, then, I have translated the original version with the MT. Thirdly, I have translated the text myself, providing an accurate translation of the original one. And, finally, I have analysed some of the main errors that the MT has produced in each translation. [the first version of this review contains colours in order to differenciate in an easier way the main mistakes of the MT. You can check it here]

FIRST TEXT 

  • Original text in English

Volcanic ash: Europe flights grounded for third day 


Virtually all of Europe’s major airports remain closed as a huge plume of volcanic ash drifts south and east across the continent from Iceland.
Millions of air travellers are stranded as thousands of flights are being cancelled for a third day.
The disruption from the spread of ash would continue into Sunday, European aviation agency Eurocontrol said.
Airlines are losing some £130m ($200m) a day in an unprecedented shutdown of commercial air travel.
“Forecasts suggest that the cloud of volcanic ash will persist and that the impact will continue for at least the next 24 hours,” a statement from Eurocontrol said at around 0830 GMT. 

  • Google translator version

La ceniza volcánica: vuelos de Europa a tierra por tercer día.
Prácticamente todos los principales aeropuertos de Europa permanecen cerrados como enorme columna de cenizas volcánicas se desplaza al sur y al este a través del continente de Islandia.
Millones de viajeros aéreos están varados en miles de vuelos han sido cancelados por tercer día consecutivo.
La interrupción de la expansión de cenizas continuará hasta el domingo, Eurocontrol Agencia Europea de la aviación, dijo.
Las aerolíneas están perdiendo unos £ 130 millones (200 millones de dólares) al día en un cierre sin precedentes del transporte aéreo comercial.
“Las previsiones indican que la nube de ceniza volcánica se mantendrá y que el impacto continuará por lo menos durante las próximas 24 horas”, dijo un comunicado de Eurocontrol en torno a las 0830 GMT. 

  • Human translation

Ceniza volcánica: se para el servicio aéreo europeo por tercer día consecutivo.
Virtualmente todos los principales aeropuertos europeos permanecen cerrados a medida que una enorme columna de ceniza volcánica se mueve empujada por el viento a través del continente desde Islandia.
Millones de viajeros aéreos se han quedado tirados ya que miles de vuelos están siendo cancelados por tercer día consecutivo.
La interrupción por la expansión de ceniza continuaría hasta el domingo, ha informado Eurocontrol, la agencia europea de aviación.
Las líneas aéreas están perdiendo unos 130 millones de libras (200 millones de dólares) al día en una paralización sin precedentes del transporte comercial aéreo.
“Las previsiones sugieren que la nube de ceniza volcánica persistirá y que el impacto continuará durante al menos las próximas 24 horas”, ha declarado un comunicado de Eurocontrol alrededor de las 08.30 GMT. 

  • MAIN MISTAKES OF THE MACHINE TRANSLATOR

Conjunctions: The conjunction “as” is repeated twice along the text and the MT has not translated it correctly in any of the cases. In the first case, it does not have a comparative meaning, but a causal one; in the second case, it has been understood as a preposition and, once again, it should be translated with a causal meaning (ya que, puesto que; in the first case, it would be also possible to translate it as a medida que).

Prepositions: The preposition “from” translated as “de la” which is rather nonsense. The sentence means something like “the disruption due to the spread of ash…” and, therefore, it could be translated with a causal meaning or using the preposition “por” (la interrupción por la expansión de la ceniza…)

Meaning of words: In some cases, the MT has misunderstood the meaning of some words, such as “grounded”, “drifts” or “suggest”, which, from my point of view, should have more accurate translations. Moreover, the translation of the verb “said” is translated literally and I think that in Spanish they do not sound as good as in English.

Verb tenses: In general, tenses are well used by the MT. However, there is a clear mistake with the passive from “are being cancelled” which has been translated as “han sido cancelados”. Although it does not sound bad in Spanish, the correct form would have been “están siendo cancelados”.

Indefinite article: The MT has forgotten to translate the indefinite article in “a huge plume of…”. It should be pointed out that, in Spanish, indefinite articles are as important as in English and, thus, they should not be forgotten.

Sentence order: In general terms, the text can be well understood. Yet, there are some sentence constructions that might sound slightly awkward.  For instance, “transporte aéreo comercial” which sounds a lot better if the order is changed “transporte comercial aéreo”. Furthermore, “European aviation agency Eurocontrol” has been translated correctly, but I think that with an apposition would sound better (Eurocontrol, la agencia europea de aviación).

 

SECOND TEXT 

  • Original text in  English

Cheryl Cole Wants Dignified Divorce 


Cheryl Cole is planning to “divorce with dignity”.
The ‘Fight for This Love’ singer – who split from her soccer star spouse Ashley Cole in February following allegations he had cheated on her with several women – is reportedly planning to take control of legal proceedings in order to end her marriage amicably.
“She is speaking to Ashley, they are texting she even calls him babebut as much as she loves him, there is no way back. This is divorce with dignity, it is Cheryl’s style

  • Google translator version

Cheryl Cole quiere divorcio digno
Cheryl Cole es la planificación de “divorcio con dignidad”.
La “lucha por la cantante This Love” – que se separó de su esposa la estrella de fútbol Ashley Cole de febrero después de las denuncias que había engañado con varias mujeres – está planeando tomar el control de los procedimientos legales para poner fin a su matrimonio de manera amistosa.
“Ella está hablando con Ashley, son mensajes de texto que incluso le llama bebé – pero tanto como ella lo ama, no hay vuelta atrás. Este es el divorcio con dignidad, que es el estilo de Cheryl. 

  • Human translation

Cheryl Cole quiere un divorcio digno
Cheryl Cole esta planeando “divorciarse con dignidad”.
La cantante de “Fight for this love” -que se separó de su cónyuge la estrella de fútbol Ashley Cole en febrero siguiendo las alegaciones de que le había sido infiel con varias mujeres- está, según se informa, planeando tomar el control de los procedimientos legales para poner fin a su matrimonio de manera amistosa.
“Está hablando con Ashley, se mandan mensajes -ella incluso le llama babe- pero por mucho que ella le quiere, no hay vuelta atrás. Esto es un divorcio con dignidad, es el estilo de Cheryl”. 

  • MAIN MISTAKES OF THE MACHINE TRANSLATOR

Relative clauses: With no apparent reason, the MT tends to construct relative clauses, even though there is no evidence of any relative clause in the original version. For instance, “she even calls him babe” which has been translated as “que incluso le llama bebé” or “…with dignity, it is Cheryl’s style” translated as “que es el estilo de Cheryl”.

Articles and pronouns: In this second translation, the MT has not indentified the need for an indefinite article in the Spanish version and, therefore, it has translated the title of text as “Cheryl quiere divorcio digno” which sound rather “naked” in Spanish, since a native Spanish speaker would have the intuition that the indefinite article “un” is missing. What is more, in the last sentence, “This is divorce with dignity”, the MT has added spontaneously a definite article “el” and translated the demonstrative pronoun as “este”. Personally, I cannot understand the reason for the construction of such sentence.

Prepositions: The MT has made the mistake of translating the preposition “in” as “de”, which is rather strange, because in most of the cases the English preposition for “de” is “of”.

Meaning of words: In general, the MT has made a good choice of the words when translating. Yet, in the case of “spouse”, the translator has used the word “esposa” which, on the one hand, is wrong because there is not agreement in gender with the subject and, on the other hand, the correct translation of the word would be “cónyuge”.

Verb tenses: Sometimes, the MT is in trouble when it has to translate the present continuous of some verbs. The verb “is planning” has been translated as a noun “planificación” and the same has happened with “are texting” translated as “mensajes de texto”. However, the MT has been able to recognize the present continuous in “is speaking”.

Sentence construction: The MT is not capable of understanding some structures. For example, “but as much as” or “following allegations”, maybe because it does not recognize the lexicon or simply the grammatical structure. Besides, it should be added that titles of songs do not need to be translated as it can occur that it ends up mixed with the rest of the text and, therefore, nothing can be understood (The “Fight for This Love” singer > La “lucha por la cantante This Love”).

 

THIRD TEXT 

  • Original text in English

Nickelback-How you remind me 

Never made it as a wise man
I couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing
Tired of living like a blind man
I’m sick of seeing without a sense of feeling
and this is how you remind me
This is how you remind me of what I really am
This is how you remind me of what I really am 

(chorus)
It’s not like you to say sorry
I was waiting on a different story
this time I’m mistaken
for handing you a heart worth breaking
and I’ve been wrong
I’ve been down
into the bottom of every bottle
these five words in my head
scream are we having fun yet 

 

  • Google translator version

Nickelback-Como me recuerdas 

Nunca lo hizo como un hombre sabio
No podía cortarlo como un hombre pobre robando
Cansado de vivir como un ciego
Estoy harto de ver sin un sentimiento de
y así es como me recuerdas
Así es como me recuerdas lo que realmente soy
Así es como me recuerdas lo que realmente soy 

(Estribillo)
No es como que digas lo siento
Estaba esperando en una historia diferente
esta vez estoy equivocada
para entregar un corazón digno de romperse
y me he equivocado
He estado en
en la parte inferior
de cada botella
estas cinco palabras en mi cabeza
grito se nos divertimos aún 

  • Human translation

Nunca actué como un hombre sabio
No pude detenerme, cual mendigo que necesita robar
Cansado de vivir como un hombre ciego
Estoy harto de ver sin poder sentir
Y es así como me recuerdas
Es así como me recuerdas lo que realmente soy
Es así como me recuerdas lo que realmente soy

(Estribillo)
No es que tengas que disculparte
Soy yo quien estaba esperando una historia diferente
Esta vez estoy avergonzado
Por encargarte un corazón que merece la pena romper
Y estuve equivocado
Estuve deprimido
En el fondo de cada botella
Estas cinco palabras en mi cabeza
Gritan: ¿Nos estamos divirtiendo juntos todavía? 

  • MAIN MISTAKES OF THE MACHINE TRANSLATOR

In general, more mistakes can be appreciated in this third text, probably because it is a song and it requires more precision as, sometimes, subjects are omitted and so forth.

Agreement of number and gender: In the first sentence of the song, the MT has not been able to recognize the gender of the verb and, thus, it has used the 3rd person singular but, in a way, it is understood that 1st person singular is needed. Moreover, the sentence “and I’ve been wrong” has been translated in the feminine and it should have been translated as “equivocado”. Besides, in the last sentence, the verb “scream” has a plural subject which means that it should have been translated in the 3rd person plural (gritan).

Meaning of words & expressions: The meaning of some words has been misunderstood by the MT. For instance, “cut” translated as “cortar” (detener), “down” translated as “en” (deprimido) or “into the bottom” translated as “en la parte inferior” (en el fondo).

Prepositions: The MT has made a mistake with the preposition “for” which has been translated as “para”. It is true that “for” can mean “para” but,  in this case, it has a causal meaning and, thus, it is more appropriate to translate it as “por”.

Sentence construction: There are some sentences which have been translated incorrectly, maybe because the MT did not recognize the lexicon or the grammatical structure. For instance: “It’s not like you to say sorry” > “No es como que digas lo siento”; “…a heart worth breaking” > “un corazón digno de romperse”.

Questions in direct speech: There is no way of understanding the translation made by the MT with regard to the question. The only thing correct in the translation is the choice of the number (1st person plural), the rest of the question is nonsense. (Are we having fun yet? > Nos estamos divirtiendo todavía?).

  

FOURTH TEXT 

  • Original text in English

The Lion King 


A young lion prince is born in Africa, thus making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne. Scar plots with the hyenas to kill King Mufasa and Prince Simba, thus making himself King. The King is killed and Simba is led to believe by Scar that it was his fault, and so flees the kingdom in shame. After years of exile he is persuaded to return home to overthrow the usurper and claim the kingdom as his own thus completing the “Circle of Life“. 

  • Google Translator version

El Rey León
Un león joven príncipe
ha nacido en África, con lo que su tío Scar el segundo en la línea de sucesión al trono. Scar parcelas con las hienas para matar al rey Mufasa y Simba Príncipe, con lo que el propio rey. El rey muere y Simba es llevado a creer por la cicatriz que era culpa suya, por lo que huye del reino de vergüenza. Después de años de exilio, está convencido de regresar a sus hogares para derrocar al usurpador y la reclamación del reino como su propia completando así el “Circle of Life“. 

  • Human Translation

El Rey León
Un joven príncipe león nace en Africa, convirtiendo de ese modo a su tío Scar el segundo en la línea de sucesión al trono. Scar planea con las hienas matar al rey Mufasa y el príncipe Simba, haciendo así que el sea el rey. Scar mata al rey y hace creer a Simba que él es el culpable así que Simba huye del reino avergonzado. Después de años de exilio, persuaden a Simba para que vuelva a casa con el fín de derrocar al usurpador y reclamar el reino como suyo, completando así “El Círculo de la Vida”. 

  • MAIN MISTAKES OF THE MACHINE TRANSLATOR

Order of sentences/Sentence construction:  The very first sentence of the text sounds a bit funny “un león joven príncipe”. Clearly, there is a slight mess with regard to the order of the adjectives and nouns. Furthermore, the expression “thus making” has been translated incorrectly twice. In both cases, the word “making” has not been translated and, therefore, the sentence has been incomplete. Likewise, the name of Simba’s uncle, Scar, has been translated into Spanish (cicatriz) which make the sentence completely nonsense. In addition, the last expression “Circle of Life”, although it is between quotation marks, could have been translated into Spanish (Círculo de la vida).

Verb tenses: It is visible that the MT has some problems when translating the passive form of some verbs; this is the case of “is born” or “is persuaded”. When this happens, the best solution may be to change the order of the sentence and the tense of the verb into the present simple; that is, instead of saying “Simba es convencido para…”, change it into “Convencen a Simba…”.

Meaning of words: The MT has made a big mistake with the word “plots” which has been translated as a noun and not as a verb. Likewise, the expression “in shame” could have been translated better, by using the adjective instead of the preposition plus the noun (en vergüenza > avergonzado).

Agreement in number: In the sentence “…persuaded to return home”, “home” has been translated in the plural even though there is no evidence of a need for the plural, since it is talking about Simba and, therefore, it should be singular.

 

SUMMARY OF THE MAIN MACHINE TRANSLATOR MISTAKES 

Above all, lexical errors can be appreciated. Just by paying attention to the title of the first text, it could be realised how the word grounded is not translated accurately. Another example is the word stranded which has been translated as están varados and, in this particular case, it means something like se han quedado tirados. In addition, the MT does not take into account that words can have more than one meaning in some cases; that is the case of in shame (third text), among many others, which has been translated as de vergüenza, but probably the translation avergonzado suits better there. Another important mistake is that the MT tends to translate everything into Spanish and, sometimes, names should remain in their original language; that is the case of Fight for this love, which is the name of a song, and Scar, the name of Simba’s uncle. Likewise, it is worth mentioning that, in the case of the first text, the author uses repeatedly the word said which might sound perfect in English in a journalistic text, yet it does not sound that good in Spanish and, therefore, the sentence happens to be slightly awkward. 

Regarding grammar mistakes, the MT is not able to recognise some verb tenses in the three texts. For example, in the first text, would continue has been translated as continuará, which is a future simple. In the second text, in order to translate is planning, the MT has chosen es la planificación, which is nonsense because it has been translated as a noun instead of a verb. And, finally, in the third text, the MT has decided to translate the passive is born as ha nacido, which is a present perfect. 

Moreover, on the syntactic level, word order has been the main protagonist, that is the case of European aviation agency Eurocontrol translated as Eurocontrol Agencia Europea de la aviación which in Spanish would be translated as an apposition Eurocontrol, la agencia europea de aviación. Furthermore, in the third text, the MT has omitted the verb making when translating the sentence into Spanish (thus making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne > con lo que su tío Scar el segundo en la línea de sucesión al trono). Besides, there have been some errors when translating prepositions into Spanish, such as in February translated as de febrero. Likewise, some mistakes with regard to gender and number can be seen (spouse > esposa, in any case it should have been esposo; return home > a sus hogares, which should be translated as a su hogar). Also, it should be of great importance mentioning that the MT has introduced the relative pronoun que when it was not necessary, for instance, This is divorce with dignity, it is Cheryl’s style translated as Este es el divorcio con dignidad, que es el estilo de Cheryl

Finally, from a stylistic point of view, it must be said that £130m has been translated as £ 130 millones and it would have been more precise to translate it as a unit, that is, 130 millones de libras

(Summary of the main important mistakes) 

References: 

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