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Wiki Distributed Translation

A lot of people don't just speak English.
  (+9, -2)
(+9, -2)
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Being educated and American, I am aware that there are people who, because of circumstances of their birth,do not speak English. I was still surprised to read that the majority of Wikipedia entries are not in english, but assorted non-english languages. If there are so many web users who are fluent in non-english tongues, perhaps this could be used to help with free and accurate on-line translation.

I propose that a wikipedia-like site be established, and people could post text with a request that it be translated into a different language. This might include prose and poetry in the public domain, advertisements, religious materia, or business documents. I envision a side by side display like a "crib". The right side would be blank, awaiting translation - alternately it could display a computer "babelfish" sort of translation.

Wiki users would then hammer away at the translation, refining it. Even if authors made rude or inaccurate translation, the iterative nature of the wiki format would make these likely to later be changed. I envision longer texts would gradually be translated in their entirely - for example, translating the Aeneid into Zulu would slowly proceed as interested and able parties took on a few lines or pages in their spare time, and others went along behind them commenting and refining their work.

The input could also be used to refine the built in automatic translator, and used for material to build new translators for other languages.

As the site is openly searchable, it could not easily be used by language students to cheat because their teachers need only search for identifiable text to discover the request for translation by the student.

It is my hope that this would be most helpful to speakers of small languages. Given my ignorace as regards languages, I suspect there are other uses it might also serve. While pondering this idea, I wonder how translation for small languages proceeds. For example - if I want to read Japanese poetry in Navajo, is it always translated to English first? Does Basque get everything via Spanish or French? I wonder if the automated translators work that way?

bungston, Sep 10 2006

Wikipedia: Translations (into English) wanted http://en.wikipedia...lation_into_English
If you *are* fluent in English + X, and you want to see whether you'd make a good translator, why not test your mettle by translating one of these articles. [jutta, Sep 13 2006]

You can do it now: http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Piano#See_also
Just add a link from one wiki to another wiki (diff lang) [sophocles, Sep 13 2006]

Wikipedia: Interlanguage links http://en.wikipedia...Interlanguage_links
Don't "just add a link from one wiki to another wiki". Here's the correct way of linking to wiki pages in other languages. [jutta, Sep 13 2006]


       I've corrected the occasional typo on Wikipedia, but find translating much too hard to do it for fun. You have to slip in and out of language contexts quickly - that context change hurts my head more than just interacting in a foreign language does.
Maybe there are people who have an easier time with it; and of course there's always classroom applications.
jutta, Sep 10 2006

       Hello - I'd like this Clingon technical directory translated into GBAYAKA (an obscure Pygmy dialect) - quickly inhales croissant before beginning to pound out a stream of gidbberish on keyboard +
xenzag, Sep 10 2006

       I remember encountering a guy in Brussels who worked at a fruit market and was fluent in 4 languages. I bet there are people who have a gift for translation and can easily slip back and forth as [jutta] describes, but have no regular venue to strut their stuff.   

       I understand there are hardcore wikipedia folks who really enjoy touching up and tinkering with entries, just as some (ahem) may enjoy spending their freetime spinning harebrained schemes. I bet the smooth translators would come out of the woodwork for a chance to flex.   

       It may be that the context change ability is a skill which could be honed. Many multilingual folks operate in one language at a time. To translate, one can see them converting blocks of speech in their heads, then coming up with the translation. But pros do it on the fly - either by innate gift or practice that context change is fluent. Maybe a venue to exercise this skill would help develop it. It is too bad such a site would be all text - if there were some way to integrate speech recognition/ production that would be even more useful.
bungston, Sep 10 2006

       Could be a useful learning resource for Foreign Language classes.   

       sp: Klingon
nick_n_uit, Sep 10 2006

       Wikis are good for collecting publically palatable opinions, not verified facts.   

       Similar 'anyone-edits' translation sites have existed, but none are still around today. Sorry.
Almafeta, Sep 10 2006

       I wonder if there's enough satisfaction to be gained for people to translate large amounts of text without getting any compensation - surely less then in writing original copy. I enjoy translating. I'd do it as a favor or for money, but I cannot imagine volunteering much time to a project such as what you're proposing.
jmvw, Sep 12 2006

       You assume, from your first paragraph, that all speakers of non-English languages also speak fluent English and are able to translate into/from it? How bizarre.   

       The problem is, even if you can speak a foreign language and speak it well, this does not mean for a second that you can translate from it much less into it. This is a common misconception (unfortunately also amongst self-styled "translators"). Not for nothing do translators train and continue training thoughout their career.   

       Moreover, whilst professional translators may be willing to have a go at the odd short poem for fun and see what happens, I doubt very much whether they would do the same for business documents/advertisments and the like. How do you think they make their living? It's not a hobby for most of them.   

       If this site were for amateurs, it might be interesting to see what comes out in a manner similar to chinese whispers but it would be of no particular linguistic value as a source for translation memory.   

       (N.B. Translation from a translation is not recommended. Reputable translators only work from the original source language into their native language.)
squeak, Sep 13 2006

       A further problem is that of ensuring that the translations are actually correct. Your iterative solution is hardly reliable. More like a full time job than a hobby methinks.
DrBob, Sep 13 2006

       //The problem is, even if you can speak a foreign language and speak it well, this does not mean for a second that you can translate from it much less into it. //   

       I think that's true. It also doesn't mean the opposite: that you can not translate. Having complete fluency in both languages helps a great deal. Not all professional translators seem to have that and not all produce natural sounding translations. I think it helps to live in the place of the language you're translating into. Language changes.   

       I think what really sets apart the professional is the amazing speed that translators need to have to make money.
jmvw, Sep 13 2006

       Neat [+]. You can do this right now.   

       No extra software needed or commons to go create. Look at what I did on the Piano link on wikipedia today.   

       Just add a link to the other language wiki so the similar articles in different languages are linked. If the content's not there, someone can then fill it, with your link being seen as a request to do so.
sophocles, Sep 13 2006

       Ahrgh. Please don't do this.   

       There's already a mechanism in place to link between wiki pages of different languages; and in fact there's already a link between the "Piano" page in English and the same page in twenty-odd other languages. Would you mind just using that existing mechanism, rather than adding redundant links to the page?
jutta, Sep 13 2006

       Nope, don't mind at all ... glad to learn.   

       Just goes to show that you can do this now, and since it's actually seems to be widely done now... not quite HB material.
sophocles, Sep 14 2006


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