Have you dined at the Translate Server Error lately?

File this post under Lost in (Machine) Translation.


This photo arrived courtesy of Gareth Morgan at Neovia Financial.

Apparently the proprietor of this restaurant in China decided to create an English-language sign using machine translation (MT) software and, apparently, the MT engine wasn’t working all that well.

So instead of “restaurant” we have “translate server error.”

It’s certainly one of the more memorable restaurant names I’ve come across. I’ll be sure to look out for it when I visit!

And I’ve love to know which MT engine delivered this message.

Google Translate graduates to the home page

Only a few days after Microsoft announces a widget to bring machine translation into your Web site’s home page, Google takes a step towards integrating machine translation into its home page.

According to the unofficial Google blog, Google has inserted its “translate” link into a number of localized Google sites — such as France and Spain. Google.com is not yet included.

This is just another sign that translation is becoming a core element of Google’s world domination strategy. If you’re curious about Google’s market share around the world — here’s an interesting “crowdsourced” document.

Here is the France home page:


I rarely ever use this pull-down menu and I wonder how many others do. I realize that Google strives to keep an austere home page and this is one solution — but I’m not sure it’s worth it. If users can’t find the translation link they may never use it.

Google Translate is no longer growing up, it’s growing out — integrating itself across all of its many properties.

Google Translate now in 41 languages

Google marches ahead with its machine translation engine, adding Turkish, Thai, Hungarian, Estonian, Albanian, Maltese, and Galician.

This time last year, Google supported a mere 13 languages, which was in itself not bad.

But I particularly like the minor tweaks made to the site’s interface. As shown below, you can now click on your language to make it one half of a language pair — a welcome alternative to the pull-down menu, which continues to grow.


What I would like to see — and I suspect is less than a year away — is the ability to simply enter a URL and have Google auto-translate that Web site into your language without you having to specify your language. Google should already know this based on your locale setting — or at least let you set that preference ahead of time.

Google Translate can auto-detect the language for you right now — but you have to ask it to do that. Perhaps the processing overhead is such that Google doesn’t want to turn on this feature by default.

So, will Google support 70 or so languages a year from now? I doubt it, given the current economic climate. As Google notes on its blog, these 41 languages already address 98% of all Internet users. I assume that Google will focus less on language expansion and more on integrating Google Translate into its products as well as improving the UI.