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IBM Smartphone Software Translates 11 Languages

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the open-source-and-share-the-fun dept.

IBM 102

coondoggie writes to mention that IBM researchers have an internal smartphone software project that is capable of translating text between English and 11 other languages (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic). There are no concrete plans to release this as a public product, but IBM certainly isn't shutting out that possibility. "Hosted as an internal IBM service since August 2008, n.Fluent offers a secure real-time translation tool that translates text in web pages, electronic documents, same-time instant message chats, and provides a BlackBerry mobile translation application. According to IBM, the software was developed from an internal IBM crowd-sourcing project where Big Blue's nearly 400,000 employees in more than 170 countries submit, update and continuously refine word translations. Every time it's used, n.Fluent 'learns' and improves its translation engine. To date, the tool has been used by IBMers to translate more than 40 million words, IBM stated."

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102 comments

Isnt there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208344)

I thought I had heard of some project somewheres on the interwebs that used a method similar to this

kdawson sucks dongs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208534)

I saw kdawson sucking dongs at the local glory hole last night. Him and Rob "Micropeen" Maldo were also seen jacking off each other's dicks with tweezers.

Re:Isnt there (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208870)

The law should require that anyone who receives welfare or food stamps for any length of time should undergo mandatory permanent surgical sterilization, because if there's anything ghetto rats are good at doing it's breeding. These are people who can't figure out that when you're in the ghetto and can barely scrape by and can't even do that without being a burden to society, you should NOT be having children. That make this a great idea. WHO'S WITH ME?!

Re:Isnt there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30211016)

I am, honestly! but a lot of white gals are going to be pissed off :(

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208350)

wow Big Blue actually does things?

Re:fp (2, Interesting)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208378)

I hate to think how many hours processing each change request, in quadrupilate before the system learnt anything.

Re:fp (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210714)

Yep, it can translate from English to Italian, AND Italian! And I thought Italian was one language, but apparently you get to count it as two!

Ma che cattso (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30211182)

but apparently you get to count it as two!

Well they talk twice as much as the others. They deserve to be counted twice.

sugoi desu ne! (0)

caywen (942955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208364)

Wow! I'm afraid this is a very commodious.

(forgive my terrible Japanese)

Re:sugoi desu ne! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30209166)

terrible Japanese

sodane

Does this mean... (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208410)

I can finally read that Japanese Slashdot?

I've always wondered what crazy stuff goes on over there, I mean they are on the CUTTING EDGE.

Re:Does this mean...Christmas gifts (-1, Offtopic)

coolforsale122 (1684852) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209018)

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seems to work (5, Funny)

lamadude (1270542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208430)

the german phrase "Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale" was correctly translated as: "My hoovercraft is full of eels" However the Hungarian translation was completely wrong

Re:seems to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30212134)

Please fondle my buttocks?

Translators (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208476)

If you give one of these phones to your girlfriend / wife, will it help you decode her rants into a language men can understand?

Re:Translators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208714)

You need help translating her rants into "no sex for you"? Don't all of her rants mean that?

Re:Translators (3, Insightful)

FishOuttaWater (1163787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208930)

Hmm... "capable of translating text between English and 11 other languages (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic)." Nope. Don't see Female on the list. Perhaps that's why they're not productizing it. Can it really be that useful if you can't understand (roughly) half the people on the planet?

Re:Translators (-1, Troll)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209030)

I can almost certainly assure you that she rants in English, and fast, but that only other women can hear it because there is pitch and phonetic information in there which they can interpret easily. I have the same problem, I have to s l o w r i g h t d o w n when I'm angry just to get the message across but female strangers across the hall are nodding and smiling in agreement with whatever I'm ranting about. Get used to it.

Re:Translators (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209050)

This qualifies as the ugliest post on /. today. What the heck happened to my bold tag??? It was only around the "and", so sorry for the messy post. There's some content there, I think... :P

How does it learn? (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208492)

I'm a little confused about how this thing learns. A necessary component of learning is feedback, and I don't understand how this software will get any feedback correcting it when it makes some kind of translation mistake. Sure, the user could sit there correcting the output, but not only is that time-consuming, but also doesn't account for errors in translating TO the target language.

I also suspect it must be some kind of cloud-based tool; one user's copy of n.Fluent improving itself wouldn't help anyone else all that much... And if it it isn't, it should be! Though that opens another can of worms -- what do you do about conflicting feedback?

Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (0)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208498)

Gene Roddenberry was prescient. He foresaw the technology for universal translation when he incorporated the Universal Translator into his television series, "Star Trek", in the 1960s.

Nonetheless, he failed to identify IBM as the inventor of the precursor to the Universal Translator.

Still, he accurately predicted many techologies: communicator (i. e., cell phone), phasors (i. e., laser cannon, for which the Pentagon has already designated a prime contracror to build the device), and warp drive (hyperdrive [newscientist.com] , which the Pentagon is now attempting to build).

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208528)

Not to rain on Gene's parade, but the "communicator" has been in use since the smoke signal.

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208588)

Yeah Robert Heinlein's characters had cellular phones in the late 1940's but I wouldn't claim he was the first. The only bit he got wrong was where a character ends a call because he is in a crowded area. That wouldn't happen today.

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (2, Insightful)

rachit (163465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209894)

Yep, today, the phone call would just be dropped due to the network being overloaded... :)

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208828)

Still, he accurately predicted many techologies: communicator (i. e., cell phone)

ST communicators (at least in TOS, which was the only version of the show before actual cell phones) weren't very different from handheld radios, with a manual tuning knob that was shown used to try to improve the reception. Except for the size (and, IIRC, the fact that they were identified as transmitting FTL, though that might have only been in later written material), they weren't all that much different from what existed at the time the show was made.

phasors (i. e., laser cannon, for which the Pentagon has already designated a prime contracror to build the device

Lasers existed at the time Star Trek was made, too. Handheld laser weapons didn't, but Star Trek wasn't at all the first place where eitehr laser weapons specifically (which are treated as "old tech" in ST) or beam weapons more generally were predicted.

and warp drive (hyperdrive, which the Pentagon is now attempting to build).

As your own hyperdrive link states, both the "hyperdrive" and the "subspace" (a term also used by ST in the same context) were theorized in the 1950s. And other concepts of FTL travel existed. Star Trek was hardly the first place the existence of an FTL drive was proposed.

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (2, Informative)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208846)

This is nothing like a universal translator. If it was then it wouldn't work on 11 languages, it would work on all of them.

And you're jumping the gun a bit claiming hyperdrive as a real technology. Just because the pentagon is paying loads of money to research something doesn't mean it has any legitimacy, e.g. remote viewing.

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209120)

Making the leap from telephone to communicator is hardly ESP, and a cel phone won't work from orbit.

Star Trek phasers are particle beam emitters [memory-alpha.org] , very different from lasers.

The hyperdrive you refer to was actually conceived before Star Trek: "Burkhard Heim began to explore the hyperdrive propulsion concept in the 1950s" Heim also coined the term "sub-space" which is used widely throughout Star Trek, so clearly Roddenberry was aware of the subject matter, like any proficient nerd of that era.

And let's not overlook all the technologies predicted in Star Trek that won't enter reality, or the episode where Picard talks about the still-unproven Fermat's Last Theorem.

Or better yet we could shut up and get on with our lives... nah!

Re:Gene Roddenberry was prescient. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210352)

A few examples from the Heinlein juvenile books between 1950 and 1960:

  • Communicator: Space Cadet
  • Laser Cannon: Between Planets
  • Warp Drive: Have spacesuit, will travel

Roddenberry was derivative at best. Many other authors of the time were using similar devices.

italian...italian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208600)

what's the difference between the first italian and the second italian?

Re:italian...italian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208678)

The italian language was bribed(like everything else in Italy) to appear twice, just so that they could claim they translate between 11 languages, and not just 10. You know, we in Italy like cheating! ;)

Re:italian...italian (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209078)

They didn't know which of the two Italians to trust. Removing one would have certainly upset the other and you don't wanna mess with Italians. Just in case (horse, bed, head... need I say more).

Re:italian...italian (1)

slashchuck (617840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209468)

They shoul have repeated Chinese, not Italian. From IBM's site: [ibm.com] "...It can convert English to and from Arabic, simplified and traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish."

Market Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208632)

According to IBM's market research, there's no benefit in publishing the tool at all. I think there is a world market for maybe five translators", said IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson recently at a press conference.

Re:Market Research (1)

Rexdude (747457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210130)

Unless said press conference was from the 70s, Thomas J Watson hasn't been the CEO of IBM in over 3 decades. The current CEO is Samuel J Palmisano.

World Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208706)

When they presented the project to IBM's top management, a going-public was sadly rejected. I think there is a world market for maybe five translators", IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson said, justifying the decision.

roundtrips (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208730)

The ultimate test for machine translation system is whether it can do roundtrip translations without information loss or distortion of meaning. When I was in school somebody had carved "Borra mig i bjornen - Drill me in the bear - Drilla mig pa baret" in the desk. It's quite funny if you're a teenager and speak Swedish.

Re:roundtrips (0, Troll)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 4 years ago | (#30211186)

The ultimate test for machine translation system is whether it can do roundtrip translations without information loss or distortion of meaning. When I was in school somebody had carved "Borra mig i bjornen - Drill me in the bear - Drilla mig pa baret" in the desk. It's quite funny if you're a teenager and speak Swedish.

I DON'T SUPPPOSE IT OCCURRED TO YOU TO EXPLAIN THE JOKE TO THOSE OF US WHO AREN'T SWEDISH TEENAGERS?

Re:roundtrips (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30212676)

I think the joke doesn't translate very well.

As he did say, you probably have to be Swedish (and a teenager) to really get it.

Re:roundtrips (1)

isj (453011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30211234)

There will always be a risk of information loss or small distortion of meaning, because languages are not equal.

Slang and sayings are probably the most difficult to translate. Eg. translating the English word "blue" to Italian will force you decide between "blu" and "azzurro" and either of those two choices insert extra meaning that wasn't in the original. Another example is the Danish saying "Træerne vokser ikke ind i himlen" which as far as I know has no direct equivalent in English.

Re:roundtrips (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213074)

"Hardness testing machine translation is whether you can do the translation, back and forth without loss or distortion of meaning. When I was in school, someone had written "Borras be with me - I am punching bear - bore me Baret bread" on the desktop. It is very nice if you are a teenager and speaks Swedish."

That was a roundtrip through norwegian, catalan, german, swedish and estonian, with Google Translate. I think it's pretty impressive, only the carving has been significantly distorted - and that was arguably distorted to begin with.

By comparison, taking a trip through german, french and spanish in Babelfish gives this result:
"L' crucial test for automatic Übersetzungsystem is s' it can do to Roundtripübersetzungen without the loss d' information or the distortion of l' importance. When j' props in l' school, quelqu' it had " ; cut state; Mig me - I in l' perforates to a Flock; bear - baret" perforated bjornen mig PA; ; in the office. It' ; s rather gladly if you' ; as for a young person, and they speak of the Swedish."

famous translation gaff (3, Insightful)

sfcat (872532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208762)

What I want to know is if it can translate:

The spirit is will but the flesh is weak.

Other systems in the past has translated this English idiom into all sorts of laughable text but my favorite is

The vodka is tempting, but the meat's a bit suspect

There are many other famously wrong translations of idioms [leeds.ac.uk] Admittedly, idioms are difficult to translate, but its not like the users will understand this or care. They just want a reasonable translation so they don't end up looking like an idiot to the cute foreign girl they are trying to bed.

Re:famous translation gaff (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209246)

Whenever anyone brings up machine translation there is always someone on Slashdot brings up this particular example, like it is some litmus test or something.

I hate to say it, but I solved this one personally a few minutes after first seeing the problem. I noticed my computer had gigabytes of drive space, and I had a friend that was fluent in both Russian and English. I asked him to translate the phrase for me, the whipped up a perl script to give the correct translation.

Considering computers are so good at simple table lookups, just have HUMANS do the hard stuff and store it in a table. The easy stuff, such as simple sentences and common stuff, can be done by computer.

Whatever happened to that project where Google was getting professional translations from the U.N. and building a database?

Re:famous translation gaff (2, Insightful)

sfcat (872532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209382)

Yes, you caught me. Some easy karma whoring but I still like the example and its good for a laugh. But idioms change with time and can be used in very fluid ways especially in social contexts. Basically what I'm saying is that computers still suck at understanding context with respect to natural language processing of all kinds. I've spent a considerable amount of my career trying to solve NLP problems but this one is a very tough nut to crack. But this doesn't change the fact that the user doesn't know or care about the difficulty of translating idioms as they just want their problem solved. Translation engines are getting much better and I would bet that this one is pretty good too. However, its not like we will have a universal translator anytime soon and probably not in our lifetimes. Somethings computers are better at and somethings people are better at. Understanding the weird ways that humans communicate isn't one of the things computers are good at. Its likely to stay that way for a long time and maybe that is okay. At least its a challenge right?

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209622)

Yes.

But, why do computers have to solve it? Just damn well PREtranslate EVERYTHING and store it all in a lookup table. I mean, hire a crapload of people who are fluent in both languages and sit them down to translate newspapers, novels, speeches, and anything else they can get a hold of. Eventually, you'll have a database that covers the vast majority of all conversations in the target language. Anything it DOESN'T know it tries algorithmic translation and feeds to to a series of human translators for validation. That phrase is then entered into the database for future use.

A few terabytes of storage cost a couple hundred dollars now. The database to handle it isn't difficult, either.

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209600)

Yes, I'm sure any limitations of machine translation can be solved by an infinite series of corrective perl scripts.

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213140)

Are you trying to be sarcastic? Gigabytes are not enough for any translation worth a penny. And Google translate is alive and well, it's definitively the best general machine translation system available anywhere (see my above post for a comparison to Babelfish).

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213684)

What is wrong with gigabytes? Translations can be stored as compressed TEXT with . The whole text-to-speech and speech recognition are separate issues.

And gigabytes was an example of cheapness of storage. Terabytes are a couple hundred $$ now. My point is storage is cheap.

Re:famous translation gaff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30209410)

That doesn't really seem like an idiom to me - while translators may have trouble, their difficulty is in using the correct meaning of each word. As long as they know 'spirit' refers to the mind or soul, rather than alcohol, and that 'weak' refers to physically weak, not diluted (or something), they will do fine.

Idioms, it seems to me, are those phrases which only make sense as a whole, like 'over the moon'.

Re:famous translation gaff (3, Insightful)

bronney (638318) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209630)

Hey, looking like an idiot to the cute foreign girl is EXACTLY what's gonna get you in bed! :)

Re:famous translation gaff (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30210554)

How can you expect a machine to translate it right when a human can't get the spelling right?

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

I think it applies to you perfectly, intelligence wise.

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30211214)

They just want a reasonable translation so they don't end up looking like an idiot to the cute foreign girl they are trying to bed.

Guess what: So does the cute foreign girl! :P

Re:famous translation gaff (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214340)

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

"Time flies when you're having fun". Why would I want to time flies? Especially if I'm having fun?

I don't understand the "smartphone" distinction. (2, Insightful)

Seor Jojoba (519752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208910)

If the software is calling a web service that performs the translation, then on the smartphone the software is trivial--a simple client that gets some user input, sends it to the internet, and receives translated text back. If this is the case, then there's no point in calling it "smartphone software", the brains are all on a server somewhere. And that server software deserves to be compared apples-to-apples to other online translation services like say... Babel Fish, to determine how worthy it is. Adding the "smartphone software" bit seems like a marketing ploy.

Chinese? (0)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30208922)

Chinese, really? It translates things into a non-existent language? Maybe it can translate into Indian some day too.

Don't be pedantic... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209088)

They are most likely referring to Standard Chinese (also called Standard Mandarin), which is used in all government communications.

Re:Don't be pedantic... (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210202)

According to IBM, they are referring to " ... [conversion of] English to and from Arabic, simplified and traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. ..."

IBM also mentions that they have developed speech recognition sw for Hindi, one of the major languages of India. Speech Recognition, of course, is not translation, so it's not directly applicable to the parent post's topic.

Re:Chinese? (1)

Frogg (27033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209336)

now, i'm no expert in languages, but i do see that google translate [google.com] also translate to/from chinese also, so i'm surprised that you claim it is a non-existant language?

also, wikipedia have a page about the chinese language [wikipedia.org] - whereas, conversely, and in support of the other half of your statement, they don't have a page for the indian language, instead having a page for the languages of india [wikipedia.org] .

perhaps we differ over uses of semantics here? perhaps you would've been happier if they'd specified traditional or simplified chinese?

like i say - i'm no expert, i'm just sayin' - that's all. ;-)

Re:Chinese? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30209884)

It exists, it's called Zhongwen . It's a written language, the different dialects are spoken. It's kind of like how back in the day in Europe everyone wrote in Latin. Speakers of standard Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, all write in Chinese. Mandarin is very close to written Chinese (although not completely, for example I see written all the time, but my ears hear it spoke much more rarely), speakers of other dialects are to some extent write in a different language than what they speak. Although, it should be acknowledged that dialects can be written down directly, and hence the Wu and Yue versions of wikipedia.

Re:Chinese? (1)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210272)

There is only one written language called "Chinese". Within that language, there are some simplified characters and traditional characters. Most mainland Chinese know mostly simplified forms (only of certain characters), and most other Chinese use the elaborate or traditional forms. This is basically due to the mainland Chinese effort to improve literacy by teaching primarily simplified characters when possible. However, they are just different forms for the words, and were used side-by-side historically in Chinese writing (simplified forms as shorthand for traditional forms). So yes, there is a Chinese written language, and it is certainly not non-existent. In fact, it was the lingua franca of the Far East, used commonly in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam much in the same way that Latin was in the West.

If you are referring to Mandarin / Cantonese / any-other-dialect, those are only spoken differences that vary everywhere in China, and even from village to village some people may not be able to understand each other. They don't dictate any written differences whatsoever because Chinese characters are usually ideographic, expressing a particular idea rather than the sound that represents it. For example, people from Hong Kong and Taiwan may write something the exact same way, but the pronunciation will be very different.

Accordingly, you will notice that there is no "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" option in any text translation tool.

Re:Chinese? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30212780)

Accordingly, you will notice that there is no "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" option in any text translation tool.

But there could be.. why? because Cantonese speakers will often use far different terms and phrases to describe the same thing or situation.

Yep the primary difference is sound / tone, but sit down with a bunch of migrant workers in shanghai and listen to them discuss the various difference in describing the same thing with each person's local dialect. It is quite interesting, and they will usually have a big laugh about it.

Unrelated, but Google translate shifted a gear in the last week or so into pure awesome for english chinese translations. Aside from the new look 'live' updates, it has even been doing a reasonable job at translating idioms.

Re:Chinese? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213278)

There's written Cantonese that's not the same as written Mandarin.

See: http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/characters/468/ [sheik.co.uk]

And that word is common in Cantonese.

The Chinese mainlanders might no longer be as aware of the differences due to the Chinese Government trying to get everyone to standardize on Mandarin (down to making everyone use Mandarin names), but that's not so true elsewhere.

As for Taiwan, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoy_dialect#Negative_particles [wikipedia.org]
e.g.
"Bo" in Amoy/Hokkien (one syllable) can be two words in Mandarin- "mei yo", or one ("bu") depending on the situation.

"not", "can not" are "mm" and "bay" in hokkien respectively, but the same word in Mandarin ("bu").

So officially they might be the same, but in practice it's not so simple.

The written language is more like a different language that the non-Mandarin users shoe-horn their spoken languages into when the time comes for writing stuff down :).

Even the Japanese used Chinese characters in the past (and still use some nowadays). And what they wrote/write with it was not always the "One Chinese Written Language".

Re:Chinese? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213448)

Oh yah see also these compound cantonese words:

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/characters/468/?full=true [sheik.co.uk]

For example:

Cantonese: m4 hou2 juk1 (typically shorted to "moh yook") = don't move (you'll hear/see this used in those Hong Kong cop shows ;) )
Mandarin writers would typically use a different bunch of characters to express that (bie dong?). I doubt they'll write "not good (to) move", even though a direct translation would probably be something like that.

There is indeed "written cantonese", but yes a lot of it is similar to written Mandarin.

FWIW, I'm not expert in Cantonese or Mandarin, so you'll probably get better info from someone who knows both well.

i using! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30208936)

Happy it is that I am to be informed of you that using translating device I slashdot egg war for screen.

Last usable time once again for perfect reading!

Web App ? (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209084)

If I read this properly this will be a web app, which will be nice for times when you have a data connection, but I have to wonder if you always will have that, the majority of the times when you need to use this.

Google Translate already? (3, Informative)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209086)

My smartphone already does this - it's called google translate, and was a huge boon while I was overseas last month.

Re:Google Translate already? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209662)

Also relevant to the article is that Google translate crowd sources with a link for users to provide an improved translation.

I'll be impressed when (3, Insightful)

robwgibbons (1455507) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209236)

When they couple it with spoken word recognition

Re:I'll be impressed when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214960)

There's an app for that:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ealQk1lX4yw

google translate vs ibm n.fluent? (1)

Frogg (27033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30209238)

i think ibm have some catching up to do! ;) - google translate [google.com] does a lot more languages than that (51 in total) - in fact i'm kinda surprised google have not built it into their chromium-os or the android platform (erm, i dunno - maybe they have - it's difficult to keep up with it all)

and, to top it all, google recently added [blogspot.com] the ability to view romanisations of characters such as chinese han, and input transliteration of phonetics for hindi, arabic and persian.

to my technical yet non-linguistically educated mind (i'm english by birth, so - thanks mostly to our poor education system, at least when it comes to languages - i only read, write and speak one language, and to be honest it's somewhat debatable how well us english folk are at our own language, although at least we don't speak americanese [/me ducks and runs] - although it's creeping into the common vernacular more and more thanks to the telly - 'though i digress somewhat), it'd be interesting to see how the technology that powers google's translate differs from that which powers ibm's n.fluent - to my mind the end result looks similar, so i wonder how much these kinds of technologies differ and/or how much they have in common?

Re:google translate vs ibm n.fluent? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215210)

although at least we don't speak americanese [/me ducks and runs]

Actually there isn't an Americanese; there are a lot of dialects. There's TexMex, Ebonics, Redneck, etc. Coming form the midwest I understand someone from England far easier than someone from New England, whose dialect is nearly incomprehensible to me.

Small vocabulary... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210530)

But an excellent translation of:

"Finally made it to the middle class? So sorry, we are shutting down your shop and relocating your services to a less expensive country with even less paid drones. We're the new IBM... we don't make computers, operating systems. We just make it easier to manage slavery."

Force Factor (1)

desiereble (1684986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210550)

Its really useful software ibm put in mobile . its really help who want to learn other language and who travel around the world .awesome innovation for the users of mobile. Force Factor [goarticles.com]

Accurate translation is impossible without AI (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30210890)

Accurate machine translation will never be achieved without the invention of human level AI. Translating from one language to another (Especially significantly different ones) requires full understanding of the contents of the text. It never could be and never will be achievable through word/phrase substitution.

Language itself is full of ambiguities. Firstly, different languages have different ambiguities, choosing to encode different bits of information. Secondly, there are different usages of different phrases depending on context and often the only way to disambiguate the different usages is knowing the context by knowing the meaning of what is being said.

In addition to this the grammatical forms of any two languages don't necessarily match up. Often translating them can mean not just rearranging the one sentence, but even rearranging the parts of multiple sentences to form a cohesive whole in a different language. This requires thinking about the meaning being conveyed.

As well as all that there's no one-to-one mapping between the meanings of words in different languages. The same word in different languages can have very different connotations. There are also words and concepts in different languages which just don't have a clear equivalent in other languages. These are generally culturally specific terms. A good translator has to be actively aware of the meaning and intention of the phrase being used.

Finally you have puns and jokes based on the connotations associated with a particular phrase which are more often than not completely untranslatable between different languages.

Re:Accurate translation is impossible without AI (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213228)

"And not all have a one to one mapping between the meanings of words in different languages. The same words in different languages can have very different connotations. Some words and phrases in different languages, you have no clear counterpart in other languages. These are often cultural specific conditions. A good translation must actively understand the meaning and purpose of the language. "

That's Google translate, through English->Swedish->Chinese->Dutch->English.

No human level AI, no understanding of the actual content of what it translates, only "dumb" statistical translation. I wouldn't be so quick to say what's possible and not.

Re:Accurate translation is impossible without AI (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213546)

And not all about a sense of a word mapping between different languages. Same words in different languages can be very different connotations. There are words and phrases in different languages, you have no clear counterpart in other languages. These are often the culture of certain items. A good translation must be a positive meaning and purpose, how to use the expression.

That's doing the same English -> Swedish -> Chinese -> Dutch -> English, as you did. For whatever reason my results are a lot less understandable.

Anyway idiom free technical writing (and simple expressions) are by far the easiest to translate. Although despite all the research we're still far from a 100% accurate translation. The complexities I mentioned above all account for that nicely.

Finally for a bit of a giggle, here is English->Chinese->English:

"And all 11 have a mapping between the meaning of the word in different languages. In a different language can have very different connotations. There are different words and language concepts, but there is no clear-cut the same as other languages. These are often the culture of specific articles. A good translation must be actively aware of the meaning and intent of the phrase to be used."

Online Translators Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30211088)

Anyone who is bilingual will probably agree that machine translation is awful. It may be sometimes helpful to translate something into your native language if you don't understand something your receive, but it will only give you a rough idea. I have had coworkers actually send out machine translator output to customers.

IBM probably plans to license out this . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30211376)

I can't fathom that IBM wants to get into the Smart Phone business, being that they sold their ThinkPad business to Lenovo.

However, selling this to Nokia, RIM, or whoever. Now that would make some sense.

I would be a shame to see something like this die in their research labs.

They should definately license as engine (2, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30212510)

I have seen some amazing, absolutely amazing things made by IBM and got wasted by "mainframe like" marketing.

One of recent examples is XL Compiler stuff, last time I checked, some mainframe reseller was trying to sell it for $600 with horribly designed (front page!) page. Until PowerPC developers on Mac could trial it, damn Apple switched to Intel :) I use it as good example why that sad decision to switch to Intel was right thing.

I have seen MPEG4 decoder/player written in Java, in JVM 1.1 ages. Imagine what would happen if a company other than IBM did it. Funny enough, it still exists in Alphaworks site and it uses _less_ CPU than Adobe Flash :)

Their "Via Voice", coming free with OS/2 4.0 was already amazing, right before it got totally wasted, some clever company bought the engine rights, mixed with another engine and still does extremely well with "naturally speaking".

I think Nuance (owner of T9) would do great job marketing this technology. It is their line of business.

Hardware vendor like Nokia or RIM would imprison into their devices ROM, they aren't really better than IBM for such purposes. I am a Nokia owner and I see some real pathetic stuff going on. Apple is out of question even.

Slow learner (1)

purplekimchi (1685468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217428)

I used the tool to translate a common Korean phrase that means "How's the weather today?" The n.Fluent English translation was "The fine weather today?" Since it allows you to "suggest" and submit a different translation, I did so. An hour later, I tried the same phrase, got the same response as before, and resubmitted the correct translation. An hour after that, I repeated the process, with the same results. Maybe it only lets managers make suggestions.
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