Google Translate adds English-Hindi and Hindi-English

May 6, 2008

Google Translate now includes Hindi-English and English-Hindi. It works as well as machine translation is likely to. If using short phrases, make sure to use punctuation. That seems to prevent it from treating the phrase as a clause. You can use the Indic transliteration tool if typing is tedious or you’re not a frequent Indic script typist. There used to be some online Urdu-Hindi transliteration tools out there, but I can’t find them. Combined you could have Urdu to English machine translation, I suppose.

One cool thing is that Hindi pages turning up in Google results now have “Translate this page” links. For example, the Google translated front page of BBC Hindi. Not bad at all, though this leaves me wondering about the viability of my Urdu to English hack:

A British study found that people of Indian origin in a particular gene क़िस्म because of obesity is likely to be more …
+ Declining not डाइटिंग of obesity

“क़िस्म ” is just the Hindi transliteration of Urdu “قسم” meaning type. The Google typing tool doesn’t seem to have a way to get the letters with dots used to represent qaf, fa, etc. in Hindi, so maybe Google just plain doesn’t recognize them.

The other untranslated word there (“डाइटिंग”) is also a transliteration, this time of the English word “dieting.” The original sentence was “Obesity not reduced by dieting.”

All in all, good fun with maybe an occasional practical use. I could recommend what I did with the BBC page there as a useful way for future NYT Delhi bureau chiefs (who cover everything from Dhaka to Peshawar and Kashmir to Kanyakumari) as a way of supplementing their usual diet of scanning the headlines of the Hindu and Indian Express and calling up Sonia to ask “what’s up?” Of course, don’t do it with the BBC site. (Although the BBC editors could really use some automated Urdu to English translation to examine some of the sketchy stuff that makes it onto their Urdu site. For some reason the Urdu one seems to be the only one I check regularly with original reporting which occasionally differs radically from what I imagine the BBC’s official policy to be. I think I’ve covered this before.)

Noticed via Pravin Satpute’s blog.

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