Machine Translators Don’t Understand Words With Many Meanings

Machine translators usually lack one crucial feature which would have a great, positive impact on the quality of automatic translations. Machine translators don’t understand words with multiple different meanings. Thus there are unlimited amount of examples of wrong word choices made by a machine.

Human languages have tones and nuances which are expressed with many ways. Word choice is one way to colour up one’s message. I guess it would be possible to invent new words for every occasion and phenomena, but our active word capacity is limited. This means that even if you know all the words, you probably use some words much more frequently than others. This is why we tend to describe different things with same words.

Somehow we still are able to understand each others messages. Communication is more than just words. For example in Hindi ‘tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’ are expressed with the same word, only the verb tense reveals the right interpretation. And if we take the word ‘tense’ from the previous sentence, I hope you understood that I was talking about verb conjugation and not about tension or anything like that.

Machine translators don’t have the ability to really understand the meaning of the text and thus mistakes happens. Especially phrases and idioms are the surest way to make translation mistakes. An unfortunate father of the bride translated his speech to delight the French groom and relatives. The result required really good sense of humour from the mother of the groom: “It takes a great lady to raise a great son,” translated into French with the meaning “It takes a very large lady to raise a very large son”.

The quality of machine translation is constantly improving while more and more language related information is collected to the translation memories. You have the power to enhance the quality of automatically translated text by making good word choices. Just follow our simple guidelines for writing machine translation friendly text.

Multilizer PDF Translator translates easily and fast.

As compared to the machine translators, we people are able build our interpretations from not only the text but also the context. Some messages cannot even be understood without the context. Try Multilizer PDF Translator which translates automatically and represents the output in right context.

2 thoughts on “Machine Translators Don’t Understand Words With Many Meanings”

  1. Some of these nuances don’t require understanding. (Actually, ‘understanding’ is not clear in the computer context.) Statistical methods may help resolving many of such problems. Try Google translation to Russian:
    “I can fill the table.”
    “I can put a spoon on the table.”

    Word ‘table’ is ‘understood’ correctly, as it translated to different words based on context.

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