English Conversation Topics
Google translate is almost always our first stop when we see something in a foreign language, and need a quick translation. Some of us use it to translate our native languages for a foreigner in the hopes of communicating.
The reality, though, turns out to be quite different. The machine translation often looks bizarre, entangled and downright incorrect. Why?
The main reason is that there is always much more to the meaning of a sentence than its form. Google does a good job of figuring out the syntax behind a written message, but only a human speaker can grasp the context, the intonation, certain relations between words, idioms, words with hidden meaning. Basically, the machine does not have the general knowledge a human has. Machine translation cannot grasp metaphors and expressive language.
I put the English idiom “keep my fingers crossed” and choose translation into my native language. Google translated it as “watch your fingers!”.
As you can see, the machine most probably translated “keep” literally and the rest was just glued together.
This is not to say, though, that it is completely useless. If you have general knowledge, you can often get to the meaning of a sentence yourself, and you only need the hint that Google can give.
Also, machine translation is all the more advanced. I doubt it will one day replace a human translator, but it will definitely get better with time.