1 April 2006

Translation software: free or cheap

Translation software is normally free or expensive, though it is coming down in price,
and I've found a very special limited offer (see below). At Tyndale I've linked our scanner
software to open a translation package automatically when a page is saved. It reads
your German book for you almost as easily as a dishwasher cleans your crockery. Well,
not quite - you still have to read the translation, and the English isn't always very good.

I put various translation tools to the test. I picked the best from the web
(there's lots of similar sites out there, but there are only a few different engines)
and one commercial program (which I picked because it was cheap).

I tested them with John 1.1-14 from Luther's Bible. A difficult passage, you'll agree.
For a quick comparison, just look at v.14 of each version.
On the whole I liked their rendition better than most English versions, because
"the Word became meat" has the shock value which John was trying to convey.
You will notice that the inferior programs don't manage to translate "ward" in v.14 as "became".
None of them produce good English, but it is good enough for you to find your way around.

Here is the RSV (to remind you what the software is aiming to produce):
1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2: He was in the beginning with God;
3: all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7: He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8: He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
9: The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
10: He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
11: He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
12: But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
13: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Here is Luther's version:
1. Im Anfang war das Wort, und das Wort war bei Gott, und Gott war das Wort.
2. Dasselbe war im Anfang bei Gott.
3. Alle Dinge sind durch dasselbe gemacht, und ohne dasselbe ist nichts gemacht, was gemacht ist.
4. In ihm war das Leben, und das Leben war das Licht der Menschen.
5. Und das Licht scheint in der Finsternis, und die Finsternis hat's nicht ergriffen.
6. Es war ein Mensch, von Gott gesandt, der hieß Johannes.
7. Der kam zum Zeugnis, um von dem Licht zu zeugen, damit sie alle durch ihn glaubten.
8. Er war nicht das Licht, sondern er sollte zeugen von dem Licht.
9. Das war das wahre Licht, das alle Menschen erleuchtet, die in diese Welt kommen.
10. Er war in der Welt, und die Welt ist durch ihn gemacht; aber die Welt erkannte ihn nicht.
11. Er kam in sein Eigentum; und die Seinen nahmen ihn nicht auf.
12. Wie viele ihn aber aufnahmen, denen gab er Macht, Gottes Kinder zu werden, denen, die an seinen Namen glauben,
13. die nicht aus dem Blut noch aus dem Willen des Fleisches noch aus dem Willen eines Mannes, sondern von Gott geboren sind.
14. Und das Wort ward Fleisch und wohnte unter uns, und wir sahen seine Herrlichkeit, eine Herrlichkeit als des eingeborenen Sohnes vom Vater, voller Gnade und Wahrheit.

Here is Google's translation of Luther - http://www.google.com/language_tools
1. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are made by the same, and without the same nothing is made, what is made.
4. In it was the life, and the life was the light of humans.
5. And the light shines in the darkness, and those darkness hat's did not seize.
6. Humans, by God, were sent were called Johannes.
7. That came to the certification, in order to witness from the light to, so that they believed all by it.
8. It was not the light, but it should witness from the light.
9. That was the true light, which illuminates all humans, who come into this world.
10. It was in the world, and the world is made by it; but the world did not recognize it.
11 He came into his property; and the its did not take up it.
12. Like many however accepted it, to those gave he power to become God of children those, which believed in its names,
13. not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from the will of a man, but are born of God.
14. And the word ward meat * and lived among us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the native of son of the father, full grace and truth.

Here is Babel Fish's translation - http://babelfish.altavista.com/
1 in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2 the same was in the beginning with God.
3 all things is made by the same, and without the same nothing is made, what is made.
4 in it was the life, and the life was the light of humans.
5 and the light seems in the darkness, and those darkness hat's did not seize.
6 humans, by God, were sent were called Johannes.
7 came to the certification, in order to witness from the light to, so that they believed all by it.
8 it was not the light, but it should witness from the light.
9 that was the true light, which illuminates all humans, who come into this world.
10 it was in the world, and the world is made by it; but the world did not recognize it.
11 it came into his property; and the its did not take up it.
12 like many however accepted it, gave to those he power to become God of children those, which believed in its names,
13 not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from the will of a man, but of God is born.
14 and the word ward meat * and lived among us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the native of son of the father, full grace and truth.

Here is Free Translation's translation - http://freetranslation.com/
1. In the beginning, the word was, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The Same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are made through the same, and without the same, is nothing made, what is made.
4. In it, the life was, and the life was the light of the persons.
5. And the light does not seem seized in the darkness, and the darkness it.
6. a person was sent It, of God, was named that Johannes.
7. that came showed to the testimony, around of the light to so that they believed all through it.
8. It the light was not, but rather it should showed of the light.
9. the true light that all persons illuminates was that, who come into this world.
10. It was in the world, and the world is not made through it; but the world recognized it.
11. It did not arise into its property; and that his took it.
12. Like many of it however received, gave born are which it power to become God of children, which that believe in its name,
13th that not out of the blood yet out of the will of the meat yet out of the will of a man, but rather by God.
14. And the word meat became* and lived under us, and we saw its glory, a glory as the innate son of the father, full grace and truth.

If you want to try these and others all at once, go to http://translation.langenberg.com/

Here is the translation of Luther by Tr@nslation Plus
1. The word was in the beginning, and the word was with God, and God was the word.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things are through the same done, and nothing done, which is done, is without the same. *
4. The life was in him/it, and the life was the light of the people.
5. And the light seems in the darkness, and the darkness didn't seize it.
6. It was Johannes a human being, sent by God, that was called.
7. He/it got the certificate, in order to testify to the light, so that they all believed through him/it.
8. He/it was not should testify to the light the light but he/it.
9. That was the true light, that all people illuminate, that come into this world.
10. He/it was in the world, and the world is done through him/it; however the world didn't recognize him/it.
11. He/it came into his/its property; and this his/its didn't pick up him/it.
12. How however, many picked up him/it that gave he/it power, to become God's children, that that believes at his/its name
13. this not from the blood still from the will of the meat still from a man's will but from God born is.
14. And the word became meat * and lived confidentially, and we saw his/its glory, a glory as the innate son of the father, full of mercy and truth.

My conclusion:
FreeTranslation.com is the best of the freebies
. It has a limit of about 750 words at a time.
Google is very fast and almost as good and appears to have no limit (or a very large one).
Tr@nslation Plus is often a little better and has no word limit though it can be slow and it isn't free.
It translates to and from French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese
It has some extra features which web versions don't have such as
* it can analyze text - provides word-by-word breakdown
* it maintains formatting of the original with save as DOC or RTF
* it has a lookup dictionary with basic morphological information
* you can add vocabulary to the dictionary (if you have the patience)

Serif is selling Tr@nslation Plus for PC for £40
www.serif.com/serifExtra/TemplatePages/Product/205/149/1.htm
There are lots of other programs for sale for PCs.
For details by someone who understands the needs of Biblical scholars, see
http://www.bmsoftware.com/translation/ (includes Hebrew translation software)
For Macs things are more expensive. I haven't tried any of the following:
Easy Translator http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/home_learning/easytranslatorformacosx.html - FREE
NeuroTran - http://www.tranexp.com/mac/ about $150 per language
Reverso Pro http://www.worldlanguage.com/Products/100232.htm $400


My advice:
For occasional translation, use the free programs on the web.
If you have books and articles to read, buy a scanner and a translation program.
If you are writing a business letter or a love letter, don't rely on translation software.

2 comments:

Fabrício Pires Fernandes said...

I recommend also this extension for Firefox:
addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3361

Supports:
* Google Translation
* Yahoo! Babelfish
* PROMT
* freetranslation.com
* Altavista
* Im translator

Translation in just one click.

In my opinion, the 'Im Translator' is the best.

Blessings from Brazil.

Fabrício.

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this is very good software and amazing results i will recommend to all.


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