How does the Paralink translator perform with my German translation?
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, (Chap.1)
I ran a short passage from Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol,
and its authorized German translation by Julius Seybt, through the free World Lingo translator. Now it’s time to test the performance of Paralink.
Here we take Julius Seybt’s authorized German translation of the
original passage and use this machine translation tool to see if we come up
with an English version which bears some resemblance to the original:
Judge for yourself:
"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas."
"O, he was a true bloodsucker, the Scrooge! Greedy, zusammenscharrender, sticking, more stingy old sinner; hard and sharply like a pebble from which still no steel has hit a warm spark; closed and selfcontent and for himself, how an oyster. The cold in his heart did his old trains solidify, his sharp nose even sharper, his face of wrinkles, his way stiffly, his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and sounded from his croaking voice. A frosty white frost lay on his head, on his eyebrows, on the strong short hair of his beard. He lugged round his own low temperature always with himself; in the dog days he cooled his Comptoir like with ice; to the yule tide he did not warm it around a degree!"
So, I love the “old trains” – a mistranslation of “Züge” (in this case it should be “features” – another example of the importance of context where one word may have several meanings), but Paralink does correctly recognize the dog-days as “Hundetage” which World Lingo didn’t.
So again, we’d have to categorise this as a gist translation which would need human intervention and a little retranslation before it is acceptable as a piece of English text.
Paralink seems to use a different translation programme to World Lingo although there seems to be no real qualitative difference between the two.
OK, so now we’ll test Paralink's German translation skills.
I've taken the original extract in English and put it through Paralink to see how it's translation compares with Julius Seybt's authorized German translation of the original:
"O, er war ein wahrer Blutsauger, der Scrooge! Ein gieriger, zusammenscharrender, festhaltender, geiziger alter Sünder; hart und scharf wie ein Kiesel, aus dem noch kein Stahl einen warmen Funken geschlagen hat; verschlossen und selbstbegnügt und für sich, wie eine Auster. Die Kälte in seinem Herzen machte seine alten Züge erstarren, seine spitze Nase noch spitzer, sein Gesicht von Runzeln, seinen Gang steif, seine Augen rot, seine dünnen Lippen blau, und klang aus seiner krächzenden Stimme heraus. Ein frostiger Reif lag auf seinem Haupt, auf seinen Augenbrauen, auf den starken kurzen Haaren seines Bartes. Er schleppte seine eigene niedere Temperatur immer mit sich herum; in den Hundstagen kühlte er sein Comptoir wie mit Eis; zur Weihnachtszeit wärmte er es nicht um einen Grad.!"
"Oh! Aber er war eine knickerige Hand am Schleifstein, Geizkragen! Ein Drücken, reißend, das Greifen, das Kratzen, der Griff, begehrlicher, alter Sünder! Hart und scharf als Zündstein, von dem kein Stahl jemals großzügiges Feuer gestrichen hatte; Geheimnis, und geschlossen, und einsam als eine Auster. Die Kälte innerhalb seiner ließ seine alten Eigenschaften erfrieren, kniff seine spitze Nase, ließ seine Backe schrumpfen, versteifte seine Gehweise; gemacht seine Augen rot, seine dünnen blauen Lippen; und sprach schlau in seiner knirschenden Stimme laut. Ein frostiger Raufrost war auf seinem Kopf, und auf seinen Augenbrauen, und seinem drahtigen Kinn. Er trug seine eigene niedrige Temperatur immer über mit ihm; er kühlte sein Büro in den Hundstagen mit Eis; und schmolz es ein Grad an Weihnachten nicht.”
So what can we learn from using the Paralink translator?
The tests on the World Lingo and Paralink translators have produced very similar outcomes. Both would need fairly extensive checking and retranslation in order to arrival at an acceptable final text.
They both clearly demonstrate that translation involves much more than simply swapping German words for their English equivalents, and vice versa, and show just how subtle and complex language can be.
TIP! These texts are taken from the Gutenberg Project,
the first and largest distributor of eBooks, and are copyright free.
The Gutenberg Project is also one of my recommended sources of free German translations for German translation students, providing copyright-free English and German versions of classic texts.
Who is Paralink?
As well as machine translations for short German texts, the Paralink
translator offers a free translation widget for webmasters, text to
speech, and online dictionaries .
It's owned by the Smart Link Corporation, and draws on the databases of Babylon, Google, Microsoft and other translation engines.
Online translators such as Paralink will continue to improve and become
increasingly useful, but will never match the beauty and coherence of a
well considered translation.
Want to know more about what makes a good translation? This is what I think.
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