That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Heart Google Translator Now More Than Ever !!

If you speak more than one language and if you've ever used Google Translator, then you may be familiar with some of the problems that can arise. Since we're working with a machine, however clever, it's bound to have some deficiencies regarding syntax and meaning, even in two closely related languages. 

As far as English to Italian and vice versa, it's quite accurate and the discrepancies, in most cases, are too slight to even notice. In the first example, English to Italian, the sentence is, "I've been to Holland." It's a perfect translation, really, except for one detail. - the Italian translation given refers to a male speaker. Like many European languages, most nouns in Italian have gender, and the verbs will follow suit. 

Above, I've clicked on the verb, "Sono stato," (I've been) in order to see what alternatives Google 
will offer me. It offers the alternative, "pernottato," (stayed overnight, lodged, boarded, etc.), which is really quite amazing when you think about it. "I've been" could easily have referred to something entirely 
different, like, "I've been married," "I've been watching a movie," and other examples that have no connection to having physically been anywhere. So, Google has the ability to gauge context between English-Italian translations. Very cool. The problem is that the Italian translation that has been given is something I, as a female, should not say. I would be referring to myself as a male and encouraging others to view me as one, too. It's a little thing that makes a big difference in languages with gender differentiation. 
In my case, it should be, "Sono stata in Olanda." But hey, no biggie.

In this next example, I've taken the same sentence and translated it from Italian to English. Again, Google is rather accurate except that it took the preposition "nei" too literally and gave the translation, "in," in English. Now, it's not a huge problem and one could easily get away with this sentence, but it should read, "I have been to the Netherlands." And again, no biggie. The message is clear ... one could even say, "at," and while it's entirely incorrect, it still communicates the idea well enough.

English to Korean, Korean to English is a whole other matter. Oh my. Really truly terribly bad translations. Not always, but often. Too often.

I'm in Italy and I've two computers with two Italian keyboards. It's very similar to the US version, just with a few differences ... like I have è, è, à, ù, ò, ç and other such letters on their very own keys, but I'm missing the grapheme symbol, "~". I really like that one ... and in order to use it, I have to copy and paste it from someone else's Facebook page or look it up on someone's Symbols Blog. Also, many cheat codes in computer games require the use of the grapheme and the lack of it brings frustration to no end for Mr. Marito, Mr. Uometto and Ms. SmartyPants. Ah well. Tough.

Mr. Marito installed new Windows something or other and now we don't have Microsoft Word - and that, my friends, was the only reliable way for me to write in Korean. It was a bit tedious as I would have to search through each variation of a syllable to get just a portion of one word and then click on it using the Symbol pop up box. Time consuming, but as accurate as a Korean American with poor Korean reading and writing skills could get. Without it, the only thing I could do was turn to Google. And turn to Google, I did. But Google translated my perfectly perfect English words into horribly horrible Korean sentences that were the poster children for unintelligibleness. It would spit out acronyms and offer World Health Organizations when all I wanted to do was write, "Hey, that's a really great photo," on a friend's Facebook picture.

So what I would have to do was take the thing I wanted to say in Korean, translate it in my head into English, then think of various ways to say it in English that would somehow match possible Korean syntax or word placement without losing the sense and context of the sentence, then type it all into the Google Translator box. I would get multiple translations, none of which were a) grammatically correct b) contextually correct or c) what and how I wanted to say it. The Korean language uses honorifics, so sometimes the translations would be what one would say to a buddy or peer, other times to a superior. I usually wanted the more formal, but not too formal version ... sigh. It was a pain. I'd have to pick and choose the words I wanted and then put them into the order I wanted by clicking, copying and pasting every single word. And sometimes, what I really wanted to say, or rather, how I wanted to say it, wasn't even offered as a translation. argh.

And then ... I discovered something ... 
I don't know if it's new or if it's been there all along. 
It's very possible that it's always been there, I'm just too daft to have noticed it before.

Above is what my screen usually looked like just moments before writing all my English variations.
I hadn't really had the need to translate Korean to English before, 
(hmmm... maybe my reading skills aren't so bad, after all. yay!)
so that may be why I missed it.

By changing the source language from English to Korean, as shown below ...  
something wonderful and magical happens - A keyboard icon pops up !! 
See ?!?!?!

And with a simple click, I have the Korean alphabet at my disposal !! YAY !! This is a hundred times better than searching through every possible letter combination in Microsoft Word, clicking to highlight it, then clicking "insert," then searching for the next letter combination ...  and it's a gazillion times better than what I'd been doing when copying and pasting through multiple Google translations.

 Now, all I need to do is CLICK ^.^ and I can type out my words as I would with a real keyboard.

 Below is the sentence "I've been to the Netherlands before," as I would have liked to say it in Korean, but until now, couldn't get to turn up, no matter how many English variations I tried ... 
and no wonder ... just look at the English translation it gives !!

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