Localization using google translator

Member
Posts: 95
Joined: 2009.09
Post: #1
Hey there,

I wrote little python script that translates all my *.strings-files (made with another script, ibtool and genstrings) to a language the google translator supports.

So the translation of the whole UI takes like 3 commands and then resizing the bounding boxes. (for like 7000 characters of text)

Now I know google translator isn't perfect, therefore I gave the french and spanish strings to friends to copyread them (glad I have friends with those mothertongues).
Since I am german myself I got 4 languages now.

Now that it is so easy translating, I'm ponderin autotranslating into japanese and korean too (chinese doesn't sell, so that has no point). Without editing I mean, because I know noone Korean or Japanese to edit those strings.
But google translator is far from perfect and the resulting jap/kor translation could be a bit weird.

What do you think, weird google translator CJK translation or no CJK - translation at all (letting them play in english)?

Example:

Welcome Commander! This short tutorial will familiarize you with the battle interface so you can take full control of your troops. To complete each step you have to complete a specific task.
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ようこそ司令官!あなたの軍の完全な制御を取ることがでã​ã‚‹ã®ã§ã€ã“れは�*いチュートリアル戦闘のインターフェイ​スを習得します。特定のタスクを完了する必要がある各スãƒ​†ãƒƒãƒ—を完了する。
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사�*�관님 오�* 것을 환영합니다! 당�*이 군대의 모�* 권한을 취�* 수 있도록이 짧은 튜�*리얼 �*�투 인터페이스를 익숙해 것입니다. 당�*은 특�*� 작업을 완료하는 데 각 단계를 완료하�*시오.

Retranslating the japanese words into english yields:
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Welcome Commander! We can take complete control of your army, which you will learn a short tutorial of the battle interface. To complete each step you need to complete certain tasks.
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Just for the fun of it I retranslated the english retranslation into Japanese, took the result and retranslated it into english. I wonder how many iterations I'd have to do before the meaning has nothing more to do with the starting string. Anyways here is the en -> ja -> en -> ja -> en result:
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Welcome Commander! We are your army can take full control of the interface tutorial to learn a short battle. To complete the steps necessary to complete specific tasks you are.
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Member
Posts: 245
Joined: 2005.11
Post: #2
That last one is reminiscent of the manuals the Japanese have been providing with televisions, video recorders, etc for the last 30 years. Why not exact a little revenge? LOL
I've experimented with translating things back and forwards before and found that for some languages it settled down after the first round trip (i.e the second time going back to English was the same as the first time).
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Posts: 770
Joined: 2003.04
Post: #3
Bersaelor Wrote:Now I know google translator isn't perfect, therefore I gave the french and spanish strings to friends to copyread them (glad I have friends with those mothertongues).

I'd be very, very careful about those translations unless your friends have seen the original strings used in context, in the actual game.

I've seen several examples of literal translations in games from big studios that were really cringe-worthy, to the point that leaving the game in english would have been a better decision. For example, many games translate the "Play" text in a main menu as "Reproducir" in spanish which is completely wrong in that context (it should be either "Jugar" or just plain "Comenzar"). A few racing games hilariously translate "Start Race" as "Comience Raza", which is even worse.

So basically: if you don't have any human who can double check the translation for a particular language, don't use it. Not only because the translation may make no sense, but also because even when it does, it may be too long and you'll need a human to find a shorter string with the same general meaning. If you have, make sure they see the text in context, in the actual game, particularly for button and section titles.
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Member
Posts: 283
Joined: 2006.05
Post: #4
There's a pretty fun site that lets you find the results of translating back and forth from Japanese: http://translationparty.com/
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Apprentice
Posts: 9
Joined: 2010.03
Post: #5
PowerMacX Wrote:I'd be very, very careful about those translations unless your friends have seen the original strings used in context, in the actual game.

I've seen several examples of literal translations in games from big studios that were really cringe-worthy, to the point that leaving the game in english would have been a better decision. For example, many games translate the "Play" text in a main menu as "Reproducir" in spanish which is completely wrong in that context (it should be either "Jugar" or just plain "Comenzar"). A few racing games hilariously translate "Start Race" as "Comience Raza", which is even worse.

So basically: if you don't have any human who can double check the translation for a particular language, don't use it. Not only because the translation may make no sense, but also because even when it does, it may be too long and you'll need a human to find a shorter string with the same general meaning. If you have, make sure they see the text in context, in the actual game, particularly for button and section titles.

That is so true from my own experience! Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to have translations (because of the requirements) and there's no other option, than to put them in. But there are ways to minimize such problems. I've always supplied excel files to translators. We actually had tools that exported translations from excel file to data files. Each row contained a string to be translated, and a separate column for each language. It also had a column with notes, that I would use to describe the context, if I saw that it might be unclear for the translator. I've also used notes (or even larger sections) to warn about translation sizes. For example, for menu buttons, I'd add a note not to exceed x letters, or just find the shortest translation possible. It's not perfect, but it helps. :-)

By the way, when doing multi language support in games, always leave 30% more space for other translations (we use English as the main language). German language is the worst of them all, their words are so long. :-D
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Posts: 95
Joined: 2009.09
Post: #6
Smilediver Wrote:By the way, when doing multi language support in games, always leave 30% more space for other translations (we use English as the main language). German language is the worst of them all, their words are so long. :-D

So thats a plus for me, since I'm german I write everything in english and then translate to german for the first localization test. So I basically have the worst case stringlength handled, everything afterwards will fit in between Smile

A french friend always liked the word "Beitragsbemessungsgrenze" for its sheer length, meaning "maximum contribution limit" usually in the context of employee on-costs. Its usually civil servants who use complicated very long word like this Smile
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Member
Posts: 245
Joined: 2005.11
Post: #7
PowerMacX Wrote:I've seen several examples of literal translations in games from big studios that were really cringe-worthy, to the point that leaving the game in english would have been a better decision. For example, many games translate the "Play" text in a main menu as "Reproducir" in spanish which is completely wrong in that context (it should be either "Jugar" or just plain "Comenzar"). A few racing games hilariously translate "Start Race" as "Comience Raza", which is even worse.

It's probably still better than this story from 2008
LOL
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