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Facebook Testing Translate Feature For Comments? 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the button-of-babel dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook may be testing a translation feature that could overcome the language barrier many users experience on the social network. If a comment posted on a Page is in a language that is different than the one your Facebook account is set to, a Translate button may show up just below it beside the existing Like button. Clicking on the button will translate the comment to your account language. After translation, an Original button appears instead, and if you click that it will revert the comment to the original version (and presumably offer the Translation button again)."
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Facebook Testing Translate Feature For Comments?

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  • all your base are belong to us
    • by ELCouz (1338259)
      Translator are never perfect, it's even worse when you translate from let say Spanish to French than Spanish to English.

      It feels like its has been translated this way : Spanish ---> English ----> French
      • They should use Esperanto as the middle language. Since it is a synthetic language there should be less cases of ambiguities.

      • by Frnknstn (663642)

        As a matter of interest, is English not your first language? It could be that someone is less able to determine subtle errors in languages with which they are less familiar.

        In any case, it does make sense for Google to focus their efforts on the translations that are most requested.

    • Well, this is machine translation:

      Their whole lower surface are belong to us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bork bork bork bork, bork bork. Bork bork-bork, bork bork bork-bork.

      - Bork.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @09:22AM (#37302296)
    The real question is can they translate all that "teen speak" my niece and nephew splash throughout their posts into something a dinosaur like me can understand?
    • by ELCouz (1338259)
      You got another point there!

      How the translator gonna understand : r u mad tod? brb my gf is callin ..

      Typos are everywhere on FB ... epic fucking fail!
      • Interesting question. Google translate doesn't understand words in any kind of dictionary way. It relies on examining pages in it's index that exist in more than one language. It then applies probabilistic algorithms to guess at translations for stuff that you input.

        So in theory slang and abbreviations would be no more difficult to translate than dictionary words. However, the sites that have text like that repeated on different language pages are probably few and far between, so it might be difficult. ...

        • That would be some interesting circular logic, if the original alternative-language versions of the websites were machine-translated
        • by DavidShor (928926)
          "So in theory slang and abbreviations would be no more difficult to translate than dictionary words. "

          Sure. The problem is that the slang and abbreviation need to show up in their corpus. From what I understand, Google mostly uses Canadian and European Parliment proceedings for their sample. "LOL' dosn't show up much there...

          • Ah, that makes sense. Someone else asked about the circular logic where a web site creator used Google translate to create the alternative language versions of their site, and Google Translate then incorporated that as a corpus for future translations...

            If Google limit their multiple-lingual corpuses to sites where they know there are professional human translators, then the quality is far higher. Though as you say rather lacking in the ability to translate slang.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      I just want to see it translate "politician" into something better than "engrish".

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well that's easy:

        Politician: blah blah constitution blah blah democracy blah rights blah blah hope blah change blah helping the common people blah blah
        English: Vote for me. I love power. Vote for me

      • by funkatron (912521)
        That's easy! The "politician" language is incapable of expressing any ideas; the correct translation is a silence (or maybe a "duuuh" if you really need a sound).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, the real question is...
      What "friends" do you have on Facebook that do not speak the language that you do? I don't use Facebook much but I wouldn't give a crap if someone that only speaks French can't read my stuff and I don't care to read some random French persons Facebook page.

      I have what privacy things I can set to friends only anyway.

      • by DavidShor (928926)
        "What "friends" do you have on Facebook that do not speak the language that you do?" Family, friends you've met traveling abroad, friends you've met here but whom were not born in the US. Do you live in Nebraska?
      • by ge7 (2194648)
        You don't interact much with people outside your immediate area, do you? I have many friends from other countries. And yes, real friends that I talk more with than some of the friends where I live. I don't see them as often, there being all that distance, but this is internet age. If you have common interests with people there's nothing in the way to become friends with people from other countries.

        This is even true for Europe, where the distances aren't that large, but almost all countries have their own
      • Actually I have friends who have first languages other than English who will post in whichever language they feel like posting in. I don't really have friends who can't post in English but I do have friends who will post in languages other than English.

        I'm happy enough to be able to translate for myself when i feel like it and occasionally reply in languages other than in English. Firefox has a few plugins for translation and google translate is quite able, even coping with spelling mistakes and letter sub

        • I don't have any (real life) friends who are not able to communicate in one of the languages I speak. Nothing strange in that - how can someone be my friend when we have no means of communicating with each other? Ok, that might not hold true for someone visiting http://brides.r.us.ru/ [r.us.ru] (I made that one up) but that is something different entirely.

          • by ge7 (2194648)
            It's not about if you two can communicate with each other. Of course you can. But if the other ones friend list mainly contains people speaking in his native language, then he is going to use that to post. Then people who speak other language, like you, can use the translate feature to translate the text. I have many friends who have their own native language, I have my own, and we communicate in English.
          • We're not talking about personal messages to you. We're talking about what people post on their wall. They may well be able to talk to you in English, but when posting on their wall, they'll often post in their native language, that the majority of their friends and family speak.

      • I went to an international school. All of my friends CAN speak English. But when posting on facebook they often post in their various native languages. Depending on who it is I already manually put some of this through Google translate. It'd be great for me to have a translate button there.

        • by ge7 (2194648)
          Several addons like FoxLingo [mozilla.org] makes that quite easily, actually. With Chrome and Opera you can even translate the whole page, tho I don't know how that works if there's several languages mixed.
      • by umghhh (965931)
        If they are friends then I speak the language that they do (when they speak with me) but how does that work if I want to address all of them? I would have to produce an output in three different languages or in one that all of them speak - the second is impossible because there does not seem to be a language that all of them speak at once. However I do not have the problem with FB at all as these friends of mine are real. This by the way raises another interesting question. In old speak there were friends a
    • by Chemisor (97276) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @10:15AM (#37302520)

      r u - would you be so kind to let me know if you are
      brb - I am terribly sorry for the interruption, but I must leave you for a moment to attend to the important business of flossing my cat
      bf - gentleman caller
      gf - imaginary friend
      thx - thank you so much! I would be forever in your debt, but that would not be politically correct
      rofl - your anachronistic babbling amuses me
      rl - that rustic, charming place where you live
      rtfm - I suggest you improve your intelligence before continuing this conversation
      fyi - but I am sure you do not care for it
      ftw - is a much better alternative that you would have thought of if you were younger
      afaik - by saying this I do not wish to appear to actually know anything, as that would result in ostracism by my peers

    • by DavidShor (928926)
      This is actually a legitimate issue with translation. I have a lot of teenage cousins from Paris, and they butcher their language as much as our teens do (que turns into ku, qui to ki, non to nn, etc). I actually speak french, so I can sort of trudge my way through it. But my cousins from Israel do it too, and the slang and misspellings completely throw translation software off.

      Facebook right now has an oddly rich corpus of multi-lingual slang, they'd be in a good competitive position vs google-translate

      • How have they got a corpus of multi-lingual slang? For sure there are many different languages posted on facebook. But where do you get the very same text in more than one language?

        • by DavidShor (928926)
          Nowhere, though maybe they can do some statistical magic. I mentioned this down-thread. Corpus, as far as I know, applies to monolingual collections of text as well.

          One thing that they can do, is to use statistical models of language to infer what unknown words "should" mean. They could even incorporate phonetic priors (IE, "Qui" sounds like "ki").

    • They're trying [lingo2word.com]
  • OMFG! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    OMFG, now i can unstand teh comments ty <3

  • This is going to be very interesting to see a new competitor for translate.google.com I think they could come up with an (almost-)completely heuristical translate engine given the massive amount of conversations going on in their databases.
    • by DavidShor (928926)
      The only issue is that it isn't a two-way corpus. They have plenty of stuff in every language, but nothing in more than one language.
  • It is happy and sounds like a very nice new features. I will add it until I can not wait to faceboox account.
  • I've always enjoyed languages and since I'm multi-lingual (not very unusual outside the USA) my FB pages are in a bunch of languages; some of which (like the posts in Swedish and Norwegian from my kayaking friends) I don't speak. But having them on my page means that with a little work I can decipher what they're saying. So now, since I'm a lazy person at heart, I'll just hit the "translate" button and get what will be only a general idea of what they were trying to say.

    Oh well, like typing... and repair sh

    • You bring up an interesting point. That the general public will also begin to read AND finally two-way insta-translate comments / (maybe live chats?) with friends-of-friends a continent away under another language was not the goal of any website out there, even with Google's pool of world-changing projects.

      Guess who benefits from pushing out a post or page that now can be read by the whole world without any google translator and toolbars? Facebook is geared towards the advertisers, and for presidents and ce

  • Isn't Facebook designed to talk to people you already know? Isn't it pretty much a given that you can already communicate with these people?

    • Yes, but that doesn't mean that they only speak one language. All of my friends can speak English, but some of their posts are in Norwegian, French, Portugese, Dutch, German, etc.. a translate button would be much more convenient than copying and pasting into a translation site (sometimes I can figure out what they're saying without one, but not often..).

    • Isn't Facebook designed to talk to people you already know? Isn't it pretty much a given that you can already communicate with these people?

      Suppose your friends in Italy.. who speak English.. also write interesting posts in Italian. Maybe you might like to read those posts.

    • Isn't it pretty much a given that you can already communicate with these people?

      Not necessarily. My wife's parents and siblings do not understand English. I can read Chinese at about a 2nd grade level, so I often have to cut and paste their messages into Google Translate to understand it. This button will make that easier. It is a nice feature.

    • A lot of my friends are Chinese and they post in Chinese more often than they do in English. I have been using a firefox plugin to translate, which does a passable job most of the time, but I'm interested in seeing how well facebook could do it. Google's translator for Chinese is not very good in my opinion...
  • by Mascot (120795) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @09:48AM (#37302412)

    I'm Norwegian. 80% of the posts I see are in Norwegian. Yet I prefer to run Facebook in English. Unless I can configure this thing, 80% of the posts I see will have a needless translate button cluttering things up. Not the end of the world, but sure to annoy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google Chrome, however, allows you to set a number of languages as languages that you "use". Thus, for example, any pages in Italian or English don't get translated, and I set "Never Translate Spanish" once and it will never ask me again. This type of functionality solves this problem.

  • I work on Welsh-English machine translation, and have looked at doing this in the browser with a bookmarklet so that comments in Welsh can be read by non-Welsh speakers. The trouble is that people tend to use non-standard spelling etc in informal postings such as facebook, whereas the majority of parallel text available to train a statistical machine translation model tends to be formal language (government documents, press releases from business, etc).

    Possibly this could be solved with two stages of transl

    • by DavidShor (928926)
      This is a big issue in French too. But statistically, it shouldn't be too hard for them to pick up the most common slang.
    • by bourdux (1609219)
      Disclaimer: I work on finding new ways to use machine translation in intercultural collaboration. What happens most of the time with slang is as you say, a simple mapping. The most efficient way to deal with slang syntactically incorrect terms is to use a custom dictionary in the machine translator. For example, "U" is translated as "you". To make it more complete, you might want to use a complete translation memory, not taking single words. To make it short, you just need a custom element in your transla
  • Google+ has it - if you use Chrome and add the extension. It works well. At least, it turns stuff I do not understand into comprehensible content. I used it on some Chinese characters a little while ago and something I couldn't even identify yesterday. In both cases, it may noy have been perfect grammar but, it made sense and fitted in with the rest of the discussion.

    As long as someone does not try and assert a patent here, this is good.

    • *try to [reference.com]
      • by Gonoff (88518)

        I presume you are trying to 'correct' my usage from "try and" to "try to".

        Often try and is interchangeable with try to, but there are some contexts in which try and implies success.

        I am quite content with my usage, Thank you for your suggestion.

  • by cavehobbit (652751) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @10:30AM (#37302584)
    That's the real test
  • This feature is going to make Facebook even more annoying. I, like probably most people exposed to several languages rather read the original, which I fully understand than something fucked up by machine translation. If people are your "friends", you are likely to share their language(s) too, even if you have set your user interface language to something like english.

    Usually the translations work on a comprehensible level between languages that are fairly similar, like between swedish and norwegian or UK an

    • This feature is going to make Facebook even more annoying.

      I disagree. It may be imperfect, but I have friends that speak either German, Spanish or English. This feature will spare me the effort of saying the same thing three times.

      Want.

      • by crossmr (957846)

        Really it won't though. Current translation tech won't give you the same thing, and if you make any errors in what you've written (spelling, casual speak, idioms, etc) the translation will fail.

        • by otuz (85014)

          Yes, good point. I do prefer Google+ anyway, it allows me to control what I say to whom much better than Facebook ever did (and maybe ever will).

          • by crossmr (957846)

            Currently Google+ tries to "personalize" my news archives searches based on the fact that I created my google+ account (not google account) in Korea, and there is absolutely no way to alter it. IT refuses to search anything except Korean language papers, it won't even search the English language Korean papers, my language isn't even set to Korean.

            So frankly it makes life difficult for me. Facebook lets you personalize every single thing you post down to the individual. How can you get any better than that?
            A

      • by otuz (85014)

        Think about the new dimension of the "facebook failure" screen shot funny pics.

  • If they would stop changing my settings of Most Recent to Top News every time i look away and of course fix the chat windows to something useful, then that would be fine - if i cant understand what my friends are posting, then its probably not for me anyway.
    Knowing how other things got implemented, this is probably what will happen:
    The service will be offered for some users, quickly followed by offering it to all users, whoever accepts are stuck with it and can do nothing to switch it off, and despite what

  • Google has been at the translation game for a long time now, and it's still a mess with a lot of languages. Asian languages especially. Korean, Japanese, Chinese all come out a jumbled mess.

    This is on professional, proofread sources like news paper articles. Koreans have this abbreviation habit of taken their letter based language which forms jamos (2-4 letters put together) + + = (han) but when typing casually, they'll often toss out individual characters in some places as a common meaning for words.

    • Another issue with asian languages, in particular Korean and Japanese, is that they are both very contextual languages. In both languages if the context makes the subject and/or object(s) clear, you can omit them. For instance if you were having a conversation about going to the store, you can just say "going". Now compare that with English(and Chinese for that matter), in English you pretty much have to(with a few exceptions) spell everything out. Almost all sentences require a subject, verb, and direc
    • by wvmarle (1070040)
      Quite often I'm using Google to translate e-mails sent to me in Chinese. Results sometimes are indeed terrible, but most of the time at least I can get the basics out of it. And it helps that I can read some Chinese directly of course, though that's usually not enough to understand a complete message but surely helps.

      Overall I'd say the results of machine translation are not bad at all, especially considering how different Chinese and English are.

    • by crossmr (957846)

      Wow really? Who mods that a troll?
      Do they deny that Google has been doing translation for a heck of a lot longer than Facebook has?
      Do they deny that Asian languages are still a mess?

      Kudos to Slashdot for stripping all the Korean characters out of the post though, really destroys the meaning of what I was writing.

  • by mangu (126918) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @07:23PM (#37305046)

    IMDB fucked up badly when they started translating movie titles randomly based on their perception of the location the browser is in.

    I hate so much to be forced to log in to IMDB to cancel this shit that I simply do not go there anymore.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Special case as movie titles are often not translated, but get a totally different title in another language. And then indeed you may know the original title and your language's title, but not the translated version. So IMDB should have a replacement table for titles to make it work well.

      • by mangu (126918)

        What they have IS a replacement table. The problem is that I want the original title, not the title in the country I happen to be. What they should have done is to present both the original and the replacement, if they wish to cater to worldwide audiences.

  • I was recently playing around with some web based translators translating Spanish comments from some bilingual friends. They said "my spanish" was stilted and the English translations of their comments were barely understandable.

  • And beat them to it as well. The Google Translate Blog notes that G+ has had this ability from late August [blogspot.com] and has been at the crowdsourcing translations game a lot longer, and offers more languages.

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