Which machine translator is the best?

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Google Translate vs. Yahoo Babelfish vs. Bing Translator

Machine translation has been around since 1954—the Georgetown-IBM experiment. They automatically translated 60 sentences from Russian to English. The first machine translator had 250 words in its vocabulary and 6 grammar rules. The experiment was declared a huge success, and the authors claimed that machine translation would be solved in 5 years. Here we are more than 50 years later. Machine translators have millions of words in their vocabulary and thousands of grammar rules, and can translate anything from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Despite this, machine translators are still rarely accurate with their translations. If the best machine translator is mediocre, you can’t afford to use lesser ones! I’ve tested three machine translators: Google Translate, Yahoo Babelfish, and Bing Translator.

I’ve used the Mandarin Chinese version of Article 21 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as the source text. Here is the source text:

  1. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??
  2. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??
  3. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?; ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?, ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??

And here is the English translation:

1.      Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

2.      Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

3.      The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Google Translate (translate.google.com)

Google Translate uses statistical machine translation. Google Translate has analyzed millions of bilingual text in order to “learn” the language. It looks for patterns in the language, which helps it decide on the best translation for you through an intelligent guessing system.

Google Translation:

1. Everyone has, directly or through freely chosen representatives in government of his country’s rights.
2. Everyone has equal opportunity to participate in their public rights.
3. the people’s will is the basis of the authority of government; this will be in periodic and genuine elections be expressed in the election shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Yahoo Babelfish (babelfish.yahoo.com)

Yahoo Babelfish is powered by SYSTRAN technology. It uses hybrid machine translation, which is a combination of rule-based and statistical translation methods.

Babelfish Translation:

1.       Everybody has direct or participation through free choice representative governs our country the right.

2.       Everybody has the equal opportunity to participate in our country official business the right.

3.       People’s will is the government authority foundation; This will should displays by regular and the true election, but elects should rest on the universal peace and so on voting right, and carries on by the secret ballot or the suitable free vote procedure.

Bing Translator (microsofttranslator.com)

Microsoft has its own statistical machine translation technology. Bing Translator is the newest out the three machine translators being tested.

Bing Translation:

1.       every person has, directly or through freely chosen representatives involved in the governance of their own rights.

2.       everyone shall have the right to equal opportunity to participate in national public service.

3.       the will of the people is the basis of the authority of the Government; This will be in periodic and genuine elections, the election shall be by universal and equal voting rights, and by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Conclusion

Yahoo Babelfish is clearly the worst one. Sentences in Chinese are structured differently than sentences in English, but Babelfish did not recognize that. Bing Translator and Google Translate had some grammatical mistakes and confusing phrases, but at least you can tell what the main idea is. If you use short sentences, then the result will be better. Perhaps in Part 2 I will perform more tests with Google Translate and Bing Translator.

Edit:Part 2 has been released!

22 thoughts on “Which machine translator is the best?

  1. Pingback: Which machine translator is the best? Part II | The WikiTranslation Blog

  2. Pingback: Which is the best software to translate from English to Spanish besides Google Translate? - Quora

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    Have you compared/tested Systran v. Babylon? OR Systran v. other software/programs? What software, in yor opinion, offers the best translation?

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