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 TIP #170   This tip was sent on the week: 3rd - 9th Aug, 2008

Translation Options: Flipping the Coin

This Tip applies to the following products:  

Practically every sentence that we write or hear can be interpreted in more than one way.  Should we be satisfied with a translation software that gives us only a single interpretation?  That would be like getting only 50% of the answer, or even less if there are more than two valid translations.  

In the following example, the Spanish sentence

Viste al niño,

has at least two meanings

Word Magic Translation #1) Dress the little boy.  
(Imperative mode, informal address “tú”)  

Word Magic Translation #2) You saw the little boy. 
(Declarative sentence)  

The above results were obtained with Word Magic’s Translator Professional Plus 5, using Translation Options Mode

We tested this same sentence with other translation programs and got the following results:

  • Competitor Program #1)  It dresses the child.
  • Competitor Program #2)  Dress your child.
  • Competitor Program #3)  It dresses the boy.

In this particular case, all the 3 translations are incorrect.  Were they correct to begin with, still they would afford only 50% of the possibilities, since Word Magic’s translation #2 (You saw the boy) is every bit as valid as #1 (Dress the boy).   

Our Translation Options feature will go beyond #2, since it subdivides it into at least two additional possibilities: “You saw the boy”, and “He dresses the boy”  (Note: To obtain these results click on “Better Choice” on Option #2)

In conversation, we are usually not aware of these ambiguities because our brain goes past the spoken word and grasps the general context, something a computer cannot do.


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