Google Translate: Background information when reading Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

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Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

Translation and the Meaning of Everything

By David Bellos

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2011,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2012,
    384 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Google Translate

It is a universally acknowledged truth that Google has changed the world we live in, and one of their newer features, Google Translate, is also likely to have a big impact on the future of language and translation.

Traditionally, mechanical translation has relied on systematic matching of word meanings between languages, and reordering words based on different grammatical and structural rules. This literal methodology is faulty and full of pitfalls. The vocabularies and grammars of languages do not always line up in perfect or equivalent ways, which - though the linguistic diversity is beautiful - can make mechanical translation a frustrating process. According to an article in Slate, this is "the kind of process that translates kindergarten as children garden."

Google Translate's method, however, is very different from the traditional manner of "this equals that." According to Google, their translator surveys language patterns in a possibly endless variety of documents, books,...

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