What is Google Translate?
Google Translate is, as the name suggests, a method of translating text and the content of websites between languages. Useful for translating foreign websites (particularly when travelling or embarking on a trip abroad), chatting with people whose English isn’t great or chatting with non-English speakers when your own knowledge of foreign languages is poor, Google Translate is similar to Babelfish.com, the translation service named after the creature in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
There are several fun things you can do with Google Translate that might not be so easy with Babelfish, however - starting with having a good chuckle over how the system struggles to deal with grammatical differences…
Fun Things to do with Google Translate - Grammatical Differences
Sadly (from the point of view of trying to have a laugh at Google Translates expense), European languages are pretty well tied up with this translation system. While French grammar and vocabulary books of the past would often throw up a few unintentionally hilarious statements, the same isn’t true of Google Translate, which correctly translates:
J’ai beaucoup à dire sur la question du commerce extérieur
I have much to say on the issue of foreign trade
However things change considerably when translating languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet, such as Japanese, and have very different grammatical rules. See socyberty.com for amusing Japanese-English translations in Google Translate.
Translating Song Lyrics
Google translate can change entire websites or just short passages into a foreign language – making it ideal for the purpose of translating song lyrics.
One particularly fun translation is the English to German song lyrics. Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” can be converted from the gentle sounding English:
Would you dance if I asked you to dance?
Would you run and never look back
Would you cry if you saw me crying
Would you save my soul tonight?
…to the fearsomely intimidating:
Möchten Sie tanzen, wenn ich Sie gefragt, zu tanzen?
Möchten Sie laufen und schau nicht zurück
Möchten Sie weinen, wenn du mich weinen sah,
Würden Sie heute abend meine Seele retten?
Thanks to the pronunciation of German words, the above sounds quite fearsome and far removed from the gentle love song above.
Google Translate for Animals
Less a fun thing to do and more a fun thing to read about, Google Translate for Animals is an amusing web page which Google hopes “encourages greater interaction and understanding between animal and human”.
Obviously this is a hoax – it was one of the best April fool’s jokes to appear on April 1st 2010!
Find out more at Google Translate for Animals
Pimp Your Town
Tired with living in Dullsville? One fun thing to do with Google translate, is to rename your town with a foreign-sounding alternative. While a standard translation will leave your towns name as it is, breaking the name up into syllables can have an interesting effect.
For instance, if we break up “Birmingham” into “birm ing ham”, in French it becomes “Birmingjambon”, in German “Birmingschinken” and Italian “Birmingprosciutto”. Of course, all that is happening is Google Translate is finding the one component of “Birmingham” that it can translate – in this case “ham” – so you might need to play around with this a little to get the best results.
Translating Back Again
Finally, why not embark on a vast translation? With Google Translate you can enter a URL or upload a document. Documents feature longer sentences and a general point of message – perfect for translating in another language and then back again by copying and pasting the translated version, saving it and then translating back into English!
You’ll find grammatical anomalies aplenty following this bit of fun with Google Translate!