Google Translate

Prompted by an earlier comment on TPV, PG conducted an experiment with Google Translate last night.

As many visitors to TPV will know, at the end of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, set during the French Revolution, a central character, Englishman Sidney Carlton executed by guillotine although he is innocent of any crime, even by the loose standards of the time and place.

Carlton has a powerful unrequited love for Lucie Manette, who nevertheless inspires him to try to be a better person. Near the end of the novel, Carton manages to change places with Lucie’s husband, Charles Darnay, who has been charged with crimes against the Revolution.

From Spark Notes:

Sydney Carton is executed at the guillotine along with many other French prisoners. Although Carton does not make a farewell speech, Dickens ends the novel with imagining what he might have said. This hypothetical farewell speech allows Carton to look ahead and envision a future where those he loves go on to honor and cherish his memory: “I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants.” The visionary speech provides a sense of closure and optimism to an otherwise tragic ending. Carton has led a difficult and lonely life, and dies in much the same condition. Likewise, the French Revolution is wreaking violent havoc without showing signs of achieving much progress. By having Carton predict a future where his sacrifice will allow those “for which I lay down my life [to be] peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy” and where France will be restored to peace and order, the novel ends with a sense of optimism rather than crushing defeat.

Link to the rest at Spark Notes

This section contains a well-known sentence:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known; it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

First, PG used Google Translate to render this sentence into various languages.

Albanian

Është një gjë shumë, shumë më e mirë që bëj, sesa kam bërë ndonjëherë; është një pushim shumë, shumë më i mirë në të cilin shkoj nga sa kam njohur ndonjëherë.” është një gjë shumë, shumë më e mirë që bëj, sesa kam bërë ndonjëherë; është një pushim shumë, shumë më i mirë në të cilin shkoj nga sa kam njohur ndonjëherë.

Finnish

Se on paljon, paljon parempi asia, jonka teen, kuin mitä olen koskaan tehnyt; se on paljon, paljon parempi lepo, johon menen kuin olen koskaan tiennyt.” on paljon, paljon parempi asia, jonka teen, kuin mitä olen koskaan tehnyt; se on paljon, paljon parempi lepo, johon menen kuin olen koskaan tiennyt.

Hausa

Abu ne mai nisa, mafi nisa da nake yi, fiye da yadda na taɓa yi; hutu ne mai nisa, wanda ya fi nisa fiye da yadda na sani.” abu ne mai nisa, mafi nisa da nake yi, fiye da yadda na taɓa yi; hutu ne mai nisa da nisa da na je fiye da yadda na sani.

Hawaiian

He mea mamao loa aʻu i hana ai, ma mua o kaʻu i hana ai; ʻO kahi hoʻomaha lōʻihi loa ia aʻu e hele ai ma mua o kaʻu i ʻike ai. he mea maikai loa a’u i hana’i, mamua o ka’u hana ana; he wahi hoomaha loa ia a’u e hele ai mamua o ka’u i ike ai.

Scottish Gaelic

Is e rud fada, fada nas fheàrr a nì mi, na rinn mi riamh; ‘s e fois fada, fada nas fheàrr a th’ ann dhan tèid mi na dh’ aithnich mi riamh.” ‘s e rud fada, fada nas fheàrr a tha mi a’ dèanamh, na rinn mi riamh; ‘s e fois fada, fada nas fheàrr a th’ ann air an tèid mi na dh’ aithnich mi riamh.
Hawaiian to English

Vietnamese

Đó là một điều xa hơn, tốt hơn nhiều mà tôi đã làm, hơn tôi đã từng làm; đó là một nơi nghỉ ngơi xa hơn, tốt hơn nhiều mà tôi đã từng biết. ” là một điều xa vời, tốt hơn nhiều mà tôi làm, hơn tôi đã từng làm; đó là một nơi nghỉ ngơi xa hơn, tốt hơn nhiều mà tôi đã đến hơn tôi từng biết.

Next, PG took each translation and had Google Translate process it from the non-English language back to English. In the interest of avoiding an overlong post, PG will show only two examples.

Albanian to English

It is a much, much better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it’s a far, far better vacation to go on than I’ve ever known.” it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I ever did; it’s a much, much better vacation that I go on than I’ve ever known.

Finnish to English

It’s a much, much better thing I’m doing than I’ve ever done; it’s a much, much better rest I’m going into than I’ve ever known.” is a much, much better thing I’m doing than I’ve ever done; it’s a much, much better rest I’m going into than I’ve ever known.

Then, PG gave Google Translate an even tougher task.

Albanian to Vietnamese to English

It’s a much better thing that I do, than I’ve ever done; it was a far away vacation, much better to go on than i ever knew. ” it was a far, much better thing I did, than I ever did; it was a much better vacation I’ve had than I ever knew.

Hawaiian to Hausa to English

I went farther than I did; It was a longer vacation than I expected. It was a good thing that I did, before I did it; It’s a safer place for me to go than I know.

And for a grand finale:

Hawaiian to Hausa to Finnish to English

I went further than I went; The vacation was longer than I expected. It was a good thing I did before I did it; It’s a safer place for me than I know.

(PG would be interested to know how many people in the world are fluent in Hawaiian and Hausa and Finnish and English.)

PG accepts that Google Translate undoubtedly has been designed to handle the job of converting one language into one other language without interceding languages, but he admits being impressed by how well the program handled chained translations.

Here’s a link to Google Translate if you would like to wile away a few hours.

Or, in Arabic:

إليك رابط لترجمة Google إذا كنت ترغب في الابتعاد بضع ساعات.