I am struggling to learn German.  It is not reading and writing, which surprisingly is easy in German. German like Spanish and as opposed to French or English, has clear rules of pronunciation.  What is hard, really hard, is to understand German, and this is not only because of the vocabulary and phonetics but mainly because of the grammar.  So as I struggle with German grammar I wondered if computers would find the challenge equally daunting.  I did a number of random translations using Google and Bing from German to English and from Spanish to English and voilá! translation engines also failed. Translations made from Spanish to English are of much better quality than from German to English.  Here are some examples. You can replicate my tests even if you don’t speak Spanish or German, just input the original text in the translators and see  which translations sound better in English.

Random paragraph from Die Welt

Der Ausbau der Fotovoltaik ist in Deutschland zwar ins Stocken geraten. Doch in dieser Woche feierte die Agentur für erneuerbare Energien noch einmal die gewaltigen Ausmaße der Solarstromproduktion, die Deutschland mithilfe üppiger Subventionen inzwischen aufgebaut hat.

Google Translator

The expansion of photovoltaics is indeed stalled in Germany. But this week, the agency celebrated for renewable energies once again the enormous size of the solar power production, Germany using lush subsidies has been able to build.

Bing Translator

The expansion of photovoltaics is advised while in Germany stalled. But this week, the Agency for renewable energies once again celebrated the huge proportions ofthe solar power production, which Germany has now built using abundant subsidies.

Random Paragraph from El Pais

Metroscopia detecta un claro cambio de opinión entre los ciudadanos respecto a la amenaza del terrorismo yihadista después de los atentados de París contra la revista Charlie Hebdo, que causaron un gran impacto en todo el mundo y también en España.

Google Translator

Metroscopia detected a clear change of opinion among citizens regarding the threat of jihadist terrorism after the attack of Paris against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which caused a big impact around the world and also in Spain.


Metroscopia detects a clear change of opinion among the citizens about the threat of jihadist terrorism after the attacks in Paris against the magazine Charlie Hebdo,which caused a great impact worldwide and also in Spain.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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