I love Google. They are my investors in Fon. Having said this, I don´t understand why the translation tools of Google are so much worse than those of Yahoo. Especially in English to German. During this vacation I started learning German with my girlfriend Nina, and I was trying to “cheat” by using the Google translation tools to do my “homework.” It did not work. But now that I use Babelfish of Yahoo I sound much better. The problem is that I went from sounding absurd to sounding “too good to be true.”

Have you heard of the test in which you had to guess if you are talking to a computer or a person? Well, that tests fails with Google Translator but it frequently passes with Babelfish. Try this simple sentence: I like to fish in the ocean. Yahoo gets that ‘to fish’ is a verb, Google doesn´t.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Carl Morris on January 8, 2009  · 

Google Translate is based on statistical analysis of thousands of documents.

So it can be weaker than other methods, especially if they haven’t inputted enough source documents to help the system translate from English to German.

Machine Translation is very interesting and a field very much in progress!

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Norman on January 8, 2009  · 

Hey Martin,

I like the fact that you learn German. I know how hard it is since I’m German and I’m studying in this international programm where 50% of the students are non German. I see that Spanish Students have most difficulties speaking German.

Anyway, Good luck learning German!
P.S. I’m gonna learn Spanish now.

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olebole on January 8, 2009  · 

Learning german would help you to read the article in the computer journal “c’t” (2/2009) that can be seen as a response to your video about the FON mistakes in germany. 🙂

Will you respond to it once you learned to read it?

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Martin Varsavsky on January 9, 2009  · 

@ olebole:

can u send me the link? maybe I can understand a few words already

Dani Santi on January 9, 2009  · 

Hi Martin, I use wordreference.com, it’s just a dictionary but is pretty good, at least in spanish-english-french. I do not know in German.
Good Luck!

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olebole on January 9, 2009  · 

Sorry, I cant. c’t is still one of these “old-fashioned” journals that are distributed on paper. I made a (german) summary in the inofficial FON board — see website link.

You could ask the journal (http://www.heise.de/ct) for an electronic copy.

If you give me your snail mail address, I could also buy one exemplar and sent it to you — it is eventually important to support a millionaire 🙂

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Kyo on January 16, 2009  · 

Hola Martin,

Babelfish may be potentially better for spen translation but it is certainly not true for cnen translation. just for fun, I typed in ‘土牛’ in chinese ( = Earth Ox, this year in the Chinese Zodiac) and Babelfish translated into:

“Mound of earth on a dike or dam to facilitate repair work ”


3.0 rating

Avery on March 31, 2009  · 

I did not see that.

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