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Maith thú, a Ghoogle!

Google D'fhógair díreach go bhfuil an teanga Gaeilge ar fáil anois mar chuid dá "seirbhís Google Translate".

That's what came out when I typed in, Google has just announced that the Irish language is now available as part of their "Google Translate" service.

It's lumpy and it's rough, but as the article says, it's "céim sa treo cheart" (a step in the right direction).

For those learning Irish, or for those who have learned it and put it out of their minds, this will be an invaluable service.

I ran this page through the box and came out with something that was pretty darn understandable - enough that I would have been able to know immediately what the page was about.

Next, I tried this page - not quite so technical, with more natural language. Once again, I had no problem understanding what the Commission for Regulation of Communications was all about.

Finally, I tried this page, which gave an overview of Old Irish literature. The machine had a harder time, because the language was natural and not technical, with more complex grammatical structures and less-common lexical items. But I still got a basic understanding of the page.

To its credit, the translation engine took fewer than 10 seconds in every case. And from Irish, no less.

I remember when I worked for a translation software company in the early 80's - we would charge thousands and thousands of dollars for a system that did this into one language only - and in some cases, not as well. The software underlying that system was astonishingly complex, based on all sorts of linguistic mumbo-jumbo, and still required heavy post-editing at the end stage. If my understanding is correct, today's engines operate on a more statistical model, and do just as well if not better in dozens of languages... for free.

That's what I call progress. It's definitely a slow go, but as we liked to say, "success is just around the corner." I wish I could be around in another 50 years to see what the next order of magnitude looks like!

[Edit: As an afterthought, I tried translating from English into Irish a well-known phrase, and got "Póg mo asal." Now why on earth would I want to kiss my donkey? ]

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Sep. 7th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
I've wanted to learn Irish, being a quarter Irish myself.

I'm glad it's there on Google translator now so I can use it in my story. :)

Sep. 7th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Just be sure you don't make the usual errors...

But seriously, if I can be of service, let me know. I'm by no means a native speaker, but I can tell you if you've had your characters allude to carnal knowledge of cold cuts...
Sep. 7th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC)
I'm only using the Irish cause I have too.

What I really need is Scots Gaelic. But for some reason I'd have to pay to have my english translated into it. and as it's for fan fiction it's really not worth paying for it.

Use of translator gave me this...
"Labhair cara agus isteach" Does that say "Speak friend and enter?"
Sep. 7th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
It says literally, "Say friend and inside". I would probably say "Labhair, a chara, agus téigh isteach" (Speak, friend, and go inside). "Enter" when being said from inside the room, i.e. "come in" is "tar isteach".

Funny - when I tried it, it gave me "Labhair cara agus iontráil" (literally, "say friend and enter") - but that's not how it would be said.
Sep. 7th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)

I'll have to change that...

was gonna use that as the title of my friends only post. :)
Sep. 7th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
That's very interesting. Because "zákaz tlumočeni" is Czech for "Interpretation Prohibited", the sign is accurate. The humor potential is in imagining circumstances where such a sign might be applicable...

On the other hand, it's funny at a meta-level...

Edited at 2009-09-07 02:50 pm (UTC)
Sep. 7th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
"Ghoogle"? It's bad policy to change the spelling of a company name unless you're not using the same alphabet.

Unfortunately, not knowing Irish or Gaelic (which I hear are not one in the same), your first couple sentences made me think, "Gthooglu ftaghn!"
Sep. 7th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
It's even worse policy not to follow the grammatical rules of a language, a Dheckardcanine...

>not knowing Irish or Gaelic (which I hear are not one in the same)

That's why you don't understand what Irish does with words in the vocative case, whether they are proper names or not.

John - Seán
Good work, John! - Maith thú, a Sheáin!
Mary - Máire
How are you, Mary? - Conas atá tu, a Mháire?
A cat - cat
The cat - an cat
His cat - a chat
Her cat - a cat
Their cat - a gcat

The initial consonant of a word carries significant grammatical information, and changes based on what precedes it, or its case, or its gender. The rule is true even for proper names.

As for Irish and Gaelic, here's how it works:

If you're speaking English:
Irish Gaelic = Irish
Scots Gaelic = Gaelic

If you're speaking Irish:
Irish Gaelic = Gaeilge
Scots Gaelic = Gaeilge ha hAlban

If you're speaking Gaelic:
Irish Gaelic = Gàidhlig na hEireann
Scots Gaelic = Gàidhlig

Clear as mud!


The Old Wolf

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