Better machine translation:

I have noticed that Google translation is much better than it was in the past, surpassing BabelFish in capability.

As evidence I present the following translations from Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Ballooon.

Original text
Il y avait une grande affluence d’auditeurs, le 14 janvier 1862, à la séance de la Société royale géographique de Londres, Waterloo place, 3. Le président, sir Francis M..., faisait à ses honorables collègues une importante communication dans un discours fréquemment interrompu par les applaudissements.

Ce rare morceau d’éloquence se terminait enfin par quelques phrases ronflantes dans lesquelles le patriotisme se déversait à pleines périodes:


Google translation:
There was a large crowd of listeners, January 14, 1862, at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Waterloo place, 3. The chairman, Sir Francis M. .., made his honorable colleagues an important communication in a speech frequently interrupted by applause.

This rare piece of eloquence finally ended by making glitzy few sentences in which patriotism is thrown at full periods:


BabelFish translation:
There was a great multitude of listeners, January 14, 1862, at the meeting of the geographical royal Company of London, Waterloo places, 3. The president, to sir Francis M..., made to his honourable colleagues an important communication in a speech frequently stopped by the applause.

This rare piece of eloquence ended finally in some whirring sentences in which patriotism flowed at full periods:


English translation by William Lackland
There was a large audience assembled on the 14th of January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. The president, Sir Francis M——, made an important communication to his colleagues, in an address that was frequently interrupted by applause.

This rare specimen of eloquence terminated with the following sonorous phrases bubbling over with patriotism:


It was not a terribly difficult piece, but I think Google did a better job.

My suggested translation, keeping as close to the original as possible would be:
There was a large crowd of listeners, on the 14th of January, 1862, at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society of London, No. 3 Waterloo Place. The president, Sir Francis M. .., made an important communication to his honorable colleagues in a speech frequently interrupted by applause.

This rare piece of eloquence finally ended with a few sonorous phrases in which patriotism flowed freely:


Google also allows you to submit suggested translations, which will no doubt continue to improve the service (as long as people submit improved translations).

Image taken from here.

Comments

b said…
You know...you've talked about translation numerous times and it has made me much more aware of translation issues. So often, I just enjoy the prose of a classic and the story/themes/etc. but have not given much thought to how a translation can really alter the meaning. And this is somewhat disconcerting, given that much of my graduate studies centered on rhetoric and how phrasing (and paraphrasing!) can completely alter the initial meaning.

Haha. Yet again, you have sent me off on a great thinking spree! :) Thanks, as always, for inspiring my thoughts!
Richard said…
breal: have I talked about it before? Hmmm ... must have slipped my mind. I do recall blogging about it once, at that time BabelFish was better than Google.

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