Note: comments posted are strictly the opinion of the poster and not necessarily those of Fiber Planners Inc. or any other posters.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Power-searching the world with Google News + Babelfish
Recently I stumbled across a powerful combination of search tools I had not used before -- Google's foreign country sites combined with Alta Vista's Babelfish on-line translation service. Trying to follow up on a somewhat vaguely translated English (or should I say "Engrish"?) translation of ITOCHU's press release about its' investment in DS2, I came across what looked like (based on the URL and date) the original Japanese version. At a loss to understand it, I tried plugging the URL into Babelfish's translation page. In 5 seconds, I had a second rough Engrish translation -- enough to see some ambiguities in translation.
A check of the Google News site at http://news.google.com/ turned up nothing about an ITOCHU-DS2 deal in the English language news sources Google crawls. On a whim, I tried Google's site in Spain at http://www.google.es/, clicked the "News" tab and entered DS2 and ITOCHU in the search box. Voila -- 10 recent Spanish news articles.
Google has country-specific search pages for most larger nations; to access them, just substitute the country's 2-letter domain for the '.com' in 'www.google.com'. For example, Google's Canadian site is www.google.ca, while its' Latvian site is www.google.lv
Going back to Babelfish, I entered in the URLs for the Spanish articles' and got rough translations -- certainly not perfect but good enough to make sense of what was going on.
Babelfish certainly isn't perfect and I hope the CIA is using real translators in their hunt for terrorists overseas, but it's opening new doors for the curious. It seems a lot better than it was when I first tried it a few years ago.
With so much happening overseas with power line broadband (especially in Spain and Chile) and fiber to the home (especially in Japan, Holland, Italy and Scandinavia) I look forward to using Babelfish more, especially as they add more languages. My wish list: Swedish, Danish, Dutch -- I'm not holding my breath for Icelandic, but conveniently FTTH pioneers there have a great site, Digital Reykjavik in English.
A final personal comment about Engrish -- even if it's sometimes funny, it's still a much better version of English than any Japanese translation I could ever attempt. It's humbling to be just another monolingual American in a world where billions speak two or more languages fluently. I'm glad my kids are getting the foreign language education I never got. posted by Al Bonnyman
Tuesday, January 06, 2004#