The day before yesterday Google released Translate, a new search tool that lets you use your mother tongue to search for results in other languages, using machine translation of course. It currently works for 12 languages: English, Arabic, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified). The new tool is introduced in this press release from Google.
To test it out go to http://www.translate.google.com/translate_s. (Using simply http://www.translate.google.com will take you to http://www.translate.google.com/translate_t, which is Google’s plain translation page.)
In true Canadian fashion I asked it to mediate between our two official languages, using the following search terms:
"right to privacy" Quebec
The result was a list of English hits in a left hand column, with their corresponding and original French versions in a matched right hand column — very very handy. You can see below the first item in my results in English, followed by the original French result:
As you see, the machine didn’t feed me back my original term but rather re-translated from the French and got it wrong. Otherwise, not bad for a machine. There’s also an ability to offer a correction to the machine, if it “misunderstood” your original terms.
I find it amazing, when I step back a few mental paces, that we rather take for granted that a near miracle such as this can and should be available to us on command, from anywhere on earth, when even ten years ago it would have seemed passing strange. How spoiled we are by daily extensions of our reach into knowledge.