Mobile Device Translation

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I’ve seen reviews for voice translation apps for Android. I’ve found less information on translation apps for written stuff. Presumably one takes a picture of some writing, and through the magic of OCR and online apps, it’s translated into English (or whatever).

What do others here use on Android for translating writing?

Comments (3)

3 responses to “Mobile Device Translation”

  1. wright_is

    I've tried a few apps and services over the years, but none have been very accurate. In fact, some, like Google Translate, can be laughably dangerous at times! The problem is, they can't work with the subtelties of language, they work better with simple sentences or signs, but normal conversation or documents are just a mess.

    I had written a product guide in English and had to translate it to German. My German is okay, but I had to have it finished in a couple of hours, which was a non-starter for a 50 page manual. So I tried running it through a few translatione engines, including Google Translate. After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I told my boss he would have to wait 2 days for the German version of the manual and did the translation properly.

    On the other side, at least you can train Google Translate, so the errors it made in the text I gave it were corrected and it works better in those cases now. Interestingly, it works/worked better with informal English than formal English (don't translated correctly, "do not" dropped the "not" on translation).

    For example, it translated the following sentences:

    "Do not open the case, high voltage inside" -> "Gehäuse öffnen, Starkstrom drinnen" (Open case, high voltage inside)

    "Do not open the case, no user serviceable parts inside" -> "Gehäuse öffnen, nichts drinnen") (Open the case, nothing inside)

    If you were out and about and getting on-the-fly translations and it is turning "do not" into simply "do", that can be downright dangerous! Especially if you are relying on the translation service totally, because it is a completely foreign language.

    Do not swim, stong tides would become "Swim, strong tide".

    Translation software is like the kid who went to the zoo and got too near the Dangeroos!

    I also did an internship at a translation company. They use tools for translation, like MemoQ, but that is a translation management tool, the translator does the translating and uses the tool to view the source and enter the correct translation. It can build up "memories" of commonly used words or phrases, but the translator still has to do most of the work.

    Heck, the translations I did were acceptable, they brought over the right information and were easy to read, but they were miles away from a professional translation, and I can run rings around most translation software going to/from English and German.

    • jrswarr

      In reply to wright_is:

      How does Microsoft Translate fare then? I put the phrases that Google had problems with and they all seemed to keep NOT in the translation.

      Do not swim, strong tides = Nicht schwimmen, starke Gezeiten

      Do not open the case, high voltage inside = Öffnen Sie den Fall nicht, Hochspannung im Inneren

      Do not open the case, no user serviceable parts inside = Öffnen Sie den Fall nicht, keine Benutzer fähigen Teile innerhalb

      • wright_is

        In reply to jrswarr:

        "Nicht schwimmen, starke Strömung" would be the normal way of saying no swimming, Strömung is the current, Gezeiten is the general tital movement. But is probably accurate enough.

        The other two, say "do not open the trap"

        The last one is funny, "do not open the trap, no user capable parts within"

        Bing is roughly on a par with Google Translate, it gets some things right that Google gets wrong and vice-versa. Neither are good enough to use to translate documents.

        It is often funny to read websites that people have posted through Google Translate. The conclusions people pull out of the articles are often completely wrong, because the translator has botched up the translation into English so badly!

        I am lucky, that when I see such German articles butchered by Google or Bing, I can read the original and post a correction in a forum. But if people have to rely on what the translation site is pushing out, it is not a good situation. And it is the same for me, reading French, Spanish etc. articles passed through Google/Bing, I don't know whether I can trust the results.

        The biggest problem at work is reading Microsoft documentation. The Technet and MSDN sites are generally auto-translated from English into German and the resulting Kaudawelsch (double Dutch or gobbledygook) is incredibly difficult to decipher at times. I generally read them in English, which is my native tongue, but then have to translate it myself on the fly, when applying it to the menus on our German servers or software, for example or writing a report for my boss.

        I've been doing translations since around 2008 and have yet to find a tool that can do an adequate job of anything other than very simple sentences.

        I've even had graduate students send me their dissertations in "English" to proof-read, before they hand them in (sometimes they have to submit an English version for posting on international portals, as well as the original German, which is where they get their credit). Usually they have given up translating it themselves at some point and just bunged the rest into Google and hope that it will do. I generally throw that away and ask for the German original and re-do it for them.


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