Playing Tennis with Google’s Translator

In preparing texts for “Interlingua multilingue,” I make very heavy use of Google’s electronic translator. It saves me a lot of time and work. It also helps me simplify the language of the texts I post here. Such simplification, of course, makes these texts easier for language students and also makes communication in general much clearer and easier. (And, of course, it is very good for language students to learn to communicate clearly and easily by imitating clear and easy texts.)

Here is an example: Let’s start with the following text in Spanish:

Una de las corrientes aplica el conocido como “ius soli” (derecho de suelo, en latín), según el cual, el recién nacido adopta la nacionalidad del lugar en que nace, independientemente del origen de sus padres.

Here is how this sentence is first translated into English by Google:

One of the applied currents known as “ius soli” (right of soil, in Latin), according to which the infant takes the nationality of the place where born, regardless of the origin of their parents.

Okay, this is a bit clumsy. So I am going to rephrase this English text more simply and directly and run it through the translator to get a new Spanish translation:

According to the legal principle known in Latin as the “ius soli,” (right of soil), a person is automatically a citizen of the country where he is born, regardless of the origin of his parents.

Google translates this into Spanish as follows:

De acuerdo con el principio jurídico conocido en América como el “ius soli” (derecho de suelo), una persona es automáticamente un ciudadano del país donde ha nacido, independientemente del origen de sus padres.

Okay, the translator was not aware that in my sentence “Latin” referred to the language of the Romans. Also, it translates “where he is born” to “donde ha nacido.” This is okay in Spanish, but I prefer the present indicative, so I make the following changes in the translation:

De acuerdo con el principio jurídico conocido en latín como el “ius soli” (derecho de suelo), una persona es automáticamente un ciudadano del país donde nace, independientemente del origen de sus padres.

All right. Both the English and Spanish sentences are simpler and correspond more closely to each other. In other words, they make use of the lexicosemantic structural core that corresponds to both English and Spanish as fairly closely related Indo-European languages, so these are the sentences I will use in one of my trilingual texts. From here it becomes easy to produce an Interlingua version of this sentence:

Secundo le principio juridic cognoscite in le latino como le “ius soli” (derecto de solo), un persona es automaticamente un citatano del pais ubi ille nasce, independentemente del origine de su patres.

This illustrates how Google’s electronic translator can be very useful as a writing and editing tool. To use it effectively, however, you must know your source language really well (English in my case, since it is my native language), and you must know the target language (Spanish in this case) well enough to know when Google produces an acceptable result and when it produces a result that is off the wall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: