Google understands Arabic

30 Apr, '06

If you didn’t catch my reference to the availability of Arabic/English and English/Arabic machine translation by Google as I’ve mentioned here, then this is from their blog. I thought I would highlight it again as this is an extremely important development. At last we have a very workable, and completely free translation service rather than the usual Arab companies offered restrictive engines. (hat tip for this one goes to me brother Hani, thanks!)

We recently launched an online version of our system for Arabic-English and English-Arabic. Try it out! Arabic is a very challenging language to translate to and from: it requires long-distance reordering of words and has a very rich morphology. Our system works better for some types of text (e.g. news) than for others (e.g. novels) — and you probably should not try to translate poetry … but do stay tuned for more exciting developments.
Google Research

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Comments (10)

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  1. Will says:

    This should go a long way in bridging the communication gap. Will it lead to more or less understanding? Truly a remarkable and important development.

    I have often wondered how the structure of a language effects the structure and nature of thought.

  2. MoClippa says:

    Darn it, Mahmood, you beat me to posting this tidbit! Always on top of things aye aye!

  3. Translation of your blog

    اذا كنت تعرف الصيد اشير الي توافر العربيه والانكليزيه والانكليزيه والعربيه من خلال الترجمه وغوغل i’ve المذكوره هنا ØŒ فان هذا من بلوغ. اعتقد ان تبرز من جديد وهذا امر مهم جدا. في الماضي كنا عملي جدا ØŒ وخاليه تماما من داءره الترجمه بدلا من الشركات العربيه عرض عادي التقييديه المحركات. (تتوافر هذه القمه عن احد لي اخ هاني ØŒ شكرا!)

  4. mahmood says:

    yeah I know, we can have a LOT of fun with this… but generally for short pieces (even longer ones) one would get the gist of what was written… and this translation server – once hopes – can only get better.

  5. FUBAR says:

    Great stuff, just translated a section of a contract that now makes a bit more sense and as I thought, was wrongly translated by my secretary. Cheers for the link Mahmood. Anyone know a good secretary who is looking for a job?

  6. angelo says:

    i finally can read all the arabic news papers online! blogs written in arabic too, ok there are some hiccups with the arabic translate service from google.. but considering they’re still in beta, i really don’t mind it…. bridge blogging is gonna’ be so much fun now 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    C’est la première fois qu’une vaccination préventive est autorisée dans l’UE pour enrayer la propagation du virus hautement pathogène h5n1 qui n’a touché jusqu’ici dans l’UE aucun oiseau d’élevage mais s’est déjà traduit par une baisse substantielle des ventes de volailles depuis l’apparition du virus en grèce il y’a 11jours, seuls des oiseaux sauvages avaient été infectés dans sept pays de l’UE :grèce , Italie, Allemagne, Autriche,France,slovénie et hongrie mais mercredi deux poules qui avaient été placées dans un refuge à graz , dans le sud de l’Autriche,ont été retrouvées porteuses du virus après avoir vraisemblablement été cotaminées par un cygne malade qui y avait aussi été recueilli

  8. Ibn says:

    Well, I have to throw out a little warning… If I type in, “what color is your car?”, google translates it to:

    ما هو لون سيارتك؟

    ..which is fine. But change car to “hair”, and you get:

    ما هو لون الشعر لكم؟

    …which isnt the right translation, and, if I had to translate to english back again would roughly come out to saying:

    “what is the color of the-hair for all of you?”

    Looks like google still has a loooong way to go before their algorithms can tackle basic Arabic. 😀

    -Ibn

  9. mahmood says:

    I don’t think that any of us is looking for perfection at the moment, it is good enough and would give the non-Arabic speakers the gist of what they are reading. I suspect the same idiosyncrasies are present for other even Latin translations.

    Can you remember, or have you used any of the other useless Arabic dictionary sites before the Arabic Google? All or most were restricted and some subscription based, while the technology that they used was anything but modern. Now with Google the consumer/surfer told those engines to stuff it!

    I use Google translator regularly and am quite impressed with its level so far.

    As they say in the software industry, you buy a piece of software at its worst, and as long as the programmers maintain the code, the only way for that code is to get better with time!

  10. Ibn says:

    Thats right Mahmood,

    Google’s translator is quite impressive. (Although it didnt work when I tried to put in http://www.azzaman.com just to check it out) – and I was trying to poke a couple of holes in it just as well – 😀

    Anyway, now that I think about this particular error, I think its contextual – in that, it does not know that the “your” is referring to a singular person, VS the “your” for plural. And for that it needs to look at the sentence in its entirety, not just word by word. Hence, the context.

    In a sense, I “feel their pain”. I did some work last year involving coming up with an AI (Artificial Intelligence) script for a particular problem, and one of the biggest challenges there, was also context.

    -Ibn

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