The Internet as Linguistic Bridge Between Cultures
I had a fantastic series of conversations over Instant Messenger recently with a Chinese national who saw my TinyOS in C# somewhere and added me to his/her Messenger Buddy List. The whole conversation was in Chinese on his/her side and Chinese/English on my side with BabelFish helping out. It was amazing. I have some very-limited familiarity with a large-ish number of language grammers (English, Spanish, French, Amharic, Japanese, Mandarin, Hindi, and Arabic...the later four adding breadth, but not nearly as much depth as I'd like, mostly on the linguistic structure and alphabet/syllabary side) and I found that BabelFish results are much more easily understood in the English-to-Whatever translation phase if the English word order is similiar to the destination language. Also, if you know a particular colloquialism in the destination language, you can coerce BabelFish with the right English phrasing. Also, if you avoid ambiguous words that could cause verb-noun confusion and find unusual but clear ways to phrase in English, the resulting translations can be much more effective. This makes me wonder (possible Masters/PhD thesis here, anyone) if an English-to-Clearer-English preprocessing or pre-compile stage to any automated translation software could dramaticaly improved one's success with these kinds of tools...
I was told by my new friend: