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(More on) Machine Translation

I’ve been watching a wonderful Spanish TV series that recently became available on Netflix, El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time). Ok, I’ve been binge viewing, and have made it through the first two (of three) seasons.

Rationalization ahead: It’s not just binge viewing, I’m working on my Spanish.  (The show is in Spanish, with English subtitles.) The Spanish is quite challenging — it’s conversational, Castillian (as opposed to Latin American), and sometimes, as the show is about time travel, archaic and/or regional.  Anyhow, I make note of interesting expressions and idioms. One that stuck with me from one of the last episodes in season two is when the lead female character says, “I slept with “.

Hmm, I wondered how Google translate would handle that. It gets the Spanish-to-English ok. However, things are a bit dicey on English-to-Spanish.  If you have instant translation on, the correct translation will show up as you type; however, once you click Translate, that translation vanishes and yet get the (default, but wrong in the context): “dormí con”, rather than “me acosté con”.

googletranslateFor further fun, I checked out a few other online translation sites:

So, the take-aways from this little venture are:

  • Google translate is still using a corpus of previous translations to help out
  • Always keep Instant Translation on
  • Machine translators might help you when ordering food in a restaurant or crossing the street, but be careful in other contexts


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