teaching machines

Playing Telephone with Google Translate

A friend was playing with the Google Translate API and wrote a game of Telephone. He started with a message in English, translated it to language X, translated it to language Y, and so on, and finally translated it back to English. Sometimes the end result was incredibly faithful to the original message, but not always.

Since I had other things to work on, I wrote up my own Telephone. I offer a few of the results.

  • She is more than just talk.
  • Ella es más que solo hablar.
  • 彼女はちょうど話以上です。
  • Она просто больше говорить.
  • She just talk more.

If Oprah runs in 2020, I think she should use this slogan, but it may not translate well.

  • To begin, begin.
  • Para comenzar, comienza.
  • 開始するには、開始します。
  • Для начала, вы можете начать.
  • For a start, you can start.

Wordsworth was aptly named. This quotation of his maintained its integrity.

  • The toaster is on the phone.
  • La tostadora está en el teléfono.
  • トースターは電話です。
  • Тостер является телефон.
  • A toaster is a telephone.

This one goes wrong at the Japanese translation. Probably because they are much more accommodating of strange electronics.

  • A spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down
  • ملعقة من الدواء يساعد السكر ينخفض
  • Một thìa đường giúp giảm thuốc
  • Un llwy de o siwgr yn helpu i leihau’r cyffuriau
  • A teaspoon of sugar helps to reduce the drugs

What began as an ironic expression of human health reversed its sentiment entirely.

  • Kid, you’ll move mountains
  • كيد، عليك أن تتحرك الجبال
  • Kid, bạn phải di chuyển núi
  • Kid, rhaid i chi symud mynyddoedd
  • Kid, you have to move mountains

This one captures the counterproductivity of praise wonderfully. It is received as a label and contributes to a child’s fixed mindset.

  • The more that you read, the more things you will know.
  • وكلما قرأت، والمزيد من الأشياء التي سوف تعرف.
  • Càng đọc, những điều hơn bạn sẽ biết.
  • Po fwyaf Rwyf yn darllen, y mwy o bethau y byddwch yn gwybod.
  • The more I read, the more things you know.

This one is a poem that I call The Sobering of a Teacher.

  • Who would you like to marry?
  • ¿Con quién te gustaría casarte?
  • あなたは誰と結婚したいですか?
  • Хотите ли вы кому-либо с браком?
  • Do you want someone with a marriage?

The internet is dangerous.

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