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Want to Help Google Translate?

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With all their money and resources why would anyone want to help Google translate?

This past weekend was a day extra with the EDSA Holiday set on the 25th. With too much time on my hands, and a cancelled Basketball game on my calendar, I had no recourse but to choose between the Playstation, (Say, play the Nietzsche-inspired, Xenosaga) or go online, surf, blog, and read poetry... I was pretty much decided on just using the Playstation but had a change of heart when I got the itch to check my email.

Then somehow in my online journey I saw these words: Want to Help Google Translate?. Interesting, huh? Surprisingly, it says Tagalog is 100% complete, but is still open to edits. To my absolute horror, most of the Google Toolbar's Tagalog/Filipino translation are haphazardly done and to put it bluntly, quite done poorly. Makes me ask why would Google with all its money not pay for a real translator who can do the job? Good for the Google main site... somehow it's near perfect! But the toolbar? Arggggh!

Apparently, my research led me to find this info: The volunteer translation program predates the Google IPO, even its boom as a private company. Back when archiving and indexing is done by volunteers, it makes complete sense. Of course, Billions of dollars of revenue after, it just doesn't see right does it? Well, it does seem insignificant to translate to Filipino versions if 99% of Filipino surfers and PC users are proficient English speakers as well.

Unless say, you are part of an idealistic pool of Filipinos like me who cares about the 1% who are very proficient english speakers too but may prefer a Tagalog translation for the novelty kick of it all? Hmmm... Some people are just Obsessive-compulsive with their customizations. I know someone for instance who instead of "Start!" in their Windows, shows "Banat!" - Having editted the Hexagesimal code of explorer.exe ... Anyways, if you're proficient in Tagalog/Filipino enough would you care to spread our language, without pay from google???

Here's the link and try it out.

As for my contribution? It's the ephemeral "Ng" versus "Nang" error. Originally it is "Please Read this Carefully", in referrence to the EULA of the Google Toolbar. Some freak translated it to "PAKIBASA NG MABUTI ITO". GRRRR. It should have been "PAKIBASA ITO NANG MABUTI"! Here's my explanation:

PAKIBASA ITO NANG MABUTI vs PAKIBASA NG MABUTI ITO = the use of "Nang" versus "Ng" is a common error in translating Tagalog texts because both dipthongs have the same sound. The latter, "ng" is used to refer to nouns and pronouns, the former "Nang" however is an advervial modifier, therefore more appropriate. "Mabuti", literally means "well, good, or kind" by itself, since this is used in this sense to mean carefully, using "Nang" will modify it to the correct meaning "carefully". "Well and careful" seem to mean just the same in english; Tagalog however, being a high-context language differentiates vastly between the two.

Further, I moved "ito" from the end of the fragment towards the termination of the verb 'pakibasa' because that's the way it should be, the former being an awkward sounding jumble. The pattern here is similar with English or with French when one says "Read this" or "Regardez-la". PAKIBASA NANG MABUTI ITO translates to "Read carefully, this one," - undeniably sounding less formal, and unnatural.


Now I'm either too bored last weekend, or I'm too geeky, or I just have too much time. Whichever way, it worked for me. I got past the chapter "Song of Nephilim" in my PS2 game, got to surf, get lots of sleep, and still play Basketball, albeit the day after. Hmmm mmm mmm mmm...........

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posted by Jdavies @ 2/28/2005,

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The Author

J.Davies

Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.


About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.

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