Mastering Google Translate: Your Secret Weapon for Understanding the World | John Yunker | Skillshare

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Mastering Google Translate: Your Secret Weapon for Understanding the World

teacher avatar John Yunker, Globalization expert, author, publisher

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Understanding languages and scripts

    • 3. How computers display languages

    • 4. Google Translation in action, Part I

    • 5. Google Translation in action, Part 2

    • 6. Other machine translation engines

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About This Class

Make Google Translate your secret weapon for understanding the world

The world speaks more than 100 languages. However, if you’re like me, you probably speak only one language fluently. Fortunately, we now have a number of machine translations engines, such as Google Translate 

While Google Translate won’t help you speak fluently, it will help you unlock content in 100 languages and will help you better understand languages in general.

This class will teach you about languages and scripts and how computers display them. You’ll then take a test drive through Google Translate to learn how to make the best use of it in your life and business.

This class assumes that you have no global or technical experience or speak any other language than English.

Meet Your Teacher

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John Yunker

Globalization expert, author, publisher


Hello, I'm John Yunker. 

Over the past decade I've helped hundreds of companies and organizations improve their global websites and processes. I've written a number of reports on web and content globalization, including 14 annual editions of The Web Globalization Report Card, Geolocation for Global Success, and Destination: Marketing.

I authored the first book devoted to website globalization, Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies as well as the most recent book Think Outside the Country (also available in Japanese). I've spoken at numerous industry events, including the Unicode Conference, Brand2Global, Internet Retailer, and Localization World. I have a journalism degree from the University of Missou... See full profile

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1. Introduction: welcome to mastering Google, translate and what I have here in front of me. What you have here in front of you is the Google translate interface. It said, Not gonna win any design awards, I'm sure, but it is a very functional and very powerful tool it has for me. Bennett been a secret weapon over the years. It has helped me make sense of a lot of content across a lot of languages, and I would love to see you utilize it to its fullest extent as well. And that's what this class is about. And it's not just about using this this tool. It's about understanding how the difference between languages and scripts and how computers manage scripts and and all of this is intended just to give you a broader understanding about the multiplicity of languages around the world and how they're displayed on computers and how Google translate makes sense. So let's take it. Take it for a bit of a test drive here. I I want to go to Argentina, and I want to stay at this hotel. The Alvear are art hotel home pages in Spanish. I have a very rough understanding of Spanish, so I would love to translate it into English. So I copy the URL and I paste it right on in here, and it gives me a link that will translate the hotel home page, which it is done. Now. This translation is is not gonna be translation of quality that you can. You can based high level purchasing decisions unnecessarily, although I have used Google translate to purchase items in the past, but it's most more, More often than not, it's it's used for getting that just of information. It is for research purposes and for that is quite quite useful. And as you use it, you're going to find limitations. You're going to notice that if texts has been embedded with an image or a video that will not be translated, you'll notice it can't translate currency, for example, or any measurements. If something's in metric and website it and you get, do you translate, it is not going to translate it into a different form of measurement, but it's a starting point, and it's a very powerful starting, and I am going to take you through using Google. Translate first by giving you just in introduction toe, languages and script and then moving on to how computers manage scripts. It's something that no matter whether you have any technical background or not, it's It's useful to understand, because if you understand, uh, the limitations of computers over the years, the Internet over the years in terms of handling languages, you'll be better equipped to just haven't understanding for how Google translate works and and how, as you navigate this multi lingual Internet, Um, where the various gaps Maybe so. Let's get started. 2. Understanding languages and scripts: I was raised to speak English, and for much of my early life I view the world through English only eyes. I took Spanish in high school and that that opened my eyes a little bit. But although with a different language, it was still a similar script, and it wasn't until I got into college and he started to really start to open my eyes to the world. I began to realize that there's quite a few languages are quite a few scripts in use around the world. And before we get into understanding our computers handle languages and scripts, it's important just to have a high level understanding of the difference between language and script because there is a very clear difference. A language is simply a system for communicating a message, and it could be a written system of visual system. A spoken system, uh, case in point. I want to communicate. I love you. I can say it could speak it. I can write it right here. I can use sign language, American sign language. This is the script I could use an emoticon. I might use a collection of emoji. There are different ways to communicate the same message. So this is to get at the point the difference between language and script and in a high level globally. There are a lot of languages and a lot of scripts, uh, being used around the world. The what I've highlighted here in red, of course, are are than markets Australia on the right, us on the left, where English dominates. But if you really look at the whole world, English is is not necessarily a dominant language, and on the Internet, it's not the dominant language. Chinese is so statistically numerically, the Internet is becoming much more dominated by language other than English and not just languages but scripts. And there are a variety of scripts you see here off Chinese scripts, Russian, Cyrillic and so forth. So let me let me go over just a few key scripts and the languages that are conveyed by these scripts. So first we have lab in Latin. I'm not talking about Roman Latin. I'm talking about the Latin, which is the the parent, uh, romance languages. So Land Script supports a number of romance languages English, French, German, Spanish and one example would be the French word for Ket. Cyrillic is a script used for Russian, Ukrainian and other languages. And their here is that same word. Cat in Russia, huh? This is a script used for both Chinese simplified and traditional languages. And once again, this is the word for Ket. It's a more pictographic language and then we hear about Arabic is news not just for Arabic , but other languages. Persian, your your do. And this is the word for what else But cat. It actually reads from right to left, not left to right. And then we have Korean. The Korean is actually is just for Korean. So some languages and scripts are one in one of the same. Um, but you're gonna find there are scripts out there that are used to support many different languages. It So that's one way to get an understanding that Latin, even though Latin, is used for a lot to support a lot of different languages, it is not the only script that is used around the world. And, uh and then this, of course, is to Korean word for cats. We have different scripts, different languages and some examples there on the right. Some languages actually mixed scripts like Japanese, and this is a screenshot from a major Japanese retailer. And if you just scan this the skin this this Web page, you'll see that there's it's it's if you don't understand Japanese and I'm not a native speaker of Japanese, so it's It's basically a lot of gibberish, but you also notice why there are some things I do recognize. I recognize numbers, so they're using the familiar numbering system. There's a lot of words that air that air left in in English. Uh, so it Japanese comfortably mixes Latin, the Latin script as well as a few other scripts, which I won't go into detail about. But suffice it to say that some languages, actually you rely on more than one script. Arabic also, uh, comfortably assimilates non Arabic script in that we see this in a lot of corporate websites where there are brand names, company names that are not localized into the into the native language for trademark reasons. Primarily, uh, but you'll see here. If you were to just look at the under office 365 here, you seen in your life to think about it you're reading from from from right to left, so you'd be reading from right to left. And then you get a word which actually reads from left to right. So it's it's a It's a mix of of not only languages but reading directions. Which is why Arabic is known as a bidirectional script reads from right to left and and and left to right based on the script that's being used or the and also the numbering system. And here's just another example from the Apple website from for Saudi Arabia. So our next segment is going to get into the nitty gritty about how computers now handle all of these languages and scripts. 3. How computers display languages: just a We speak our own human languages. Computers speak languages of their own, and it's important to not necessarily understand the computer languages. I'm not going to go that detailed, but it's it's valuable to understand how computers manage and manipulate scripts, and that's what this segment is about. For example, the phrase Once upon a time, if I were to type this into a computer, the computer isn't necessarily looking that looking at this as a human language phrase, it's actually breaking this down into characters and into their respective bites. So this is, uh, computers working in ones and zeroes or binary, and you can actually break this down into individual characters. This is capital O lower case and lower case C and so forth. So that is how a computer is handling that phrase. Once upon a time, the mapping or the alignment of off the letter capital letter Odle. That binary text is known as an encoding, and that's, ah, the word that gets used a lot of software, but encoding is, is something that's good t understand, because in coatings do change and can can be changed. But it's simply just a mapping. It's a mapping that computers use to to make sense of all of our human languages and translated into the language they understand computers. And it's important also to understand that there's multiple in coatings, and one of the most popular ones is over the years has been asking, and you probably have heard this phrase asking, and I'm not gonna go into what asking means. But it's a It's a legacy and coding that's been around since the early days of computers, and it is a away of a lot of mapping the subset of Latin, the Latin script to computer. And I've highlighted this, uh, this This is just a simple chart, and you can see here removed from left to right with the decibel number, we have a hexi decimal, which is a number of different way of numbering. Then we have buying here, which we just covered, and then octo another number and sister system and then the character. So there we have Oh, and then we have the binary representation of O and then the Hexi decimal number equivalent of that. Oh, so this is all in encoding. So we see the letter O, but computer might see the binary or we are. We're something different based on how the computer is. Handley is encoding. But this is a very old encoding system and effect. I've highlighted, Oh, Capital Letter. Oh, here, Uh, and you can see here that that binary number is what we just looked like Look at on the previous screen. Asking is not the only. And Cody, in effect, used to be the dominant encoding on computers, when computers could really only handle a limited number of off characters. But as the world has gone online and as computers have been developed and expanded to support all the world's languages, there's been a need for a much, much larger and goading if you will, that would support all the world's major languages. And this encoding is not lessened Unico. And there's an organization called the Unicode Consortium that a number of years ago got together and basically created this super set. The super character set a few well with all the world's languages, major languages. It even includes emoji now, which is somewhat controversial, but that is another language. So as you can see here, the members, the key members here of course, are the major familiar name tech companies, and the reason they got together is they want, you know, by working together, they could create standards. A standard way of handling the world's languages, and it would make their jobs easier would make it more efficient to local I software and websites, and I highly recommend checking out unicode dot org's and and just browsing around. Here it is. It could be a little overwhelming, but this isn't a monumental undertaking what they have accomplished, and they continue to work on and continues to evolve and your computers, if you use in a relatively late model computer or phone, or what not. It is using Unicode to some degree to give you another understanding of encoding. There's a website I really recommend, checking out as well called Unico Table Unicode hyphen table dot com. And this is just another way to get an understanding of the various encoding. So what we're looking at here is a screen grab of the Latin script encoding within Unicode , and I'm just gonna run my mouse over that you could see the number of characters such in 96 characters in this script, the Taif. It's an alphabetic script, and you can now see the language is supported by the script English, German, French, etcetera. And this range, of course, this is the encoding. The Unicode encoding off, where these characters set within the encoding and a Unicode also include Seeber 112 characters in Hebrew Alphabet It it supports here Hebrew and Yiddish. And this is just I'm just not gonna not gonna go through all the languages. But here's Cyrillic Children 56 characters Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian. So this is Unico. This is one way of looking at, you know, coated browsing and getting a feel for how this, this super character said, handles all the world's language. So your computer right now handles Unicode, most likely. And so you know, Coach running underneath and because it's running underneath, it allows your war computer to display a variety of different languages when you visit different websites, and you might be wondering about fonts. The thought is just a means of displaying a specific script. Were character so you can have this. This is one ladder displayed three different ways, so it's exact same encoding point, but it's displayed differently, So fonts also come into play. And in fact, if you have a much older computer and your browsing the Internet and you try to view ah, language that doesn't have a font on your computer to display that language, you might too little rectangular boxes that indicate that you don't have the font needed to display that those characters that's really becoming a legacy of the past because most modern computers include what what is it? What are known as Unicode friendly or Unicode ready fonts? And they're really, really large Fonte thousands and thousands off characters. These funds these funds allow would allow that a Web page to display 2030 different languages and scripts all on one page, and that's that's powered by having a really powerful, comprehensive fought. So this is a high level understood view of how computers display, uh, the world's languages, and now we're getting into Google. Translate a little bit here and you can see on the other lower half lower left corner. Here there is this input method. Input method is a way of basically another way of saying keyboard, because when you start to think about different languages, you you're gonna need different keyboards if you're gonna import those different languages and Google Translate provides these virtual keyboards that are aligned with different scripts. Now let's get into Google. Translate in more detail. 4. Google Translation in action, Part I: the best way to learn Google translate is just to dive in and use it. So let's go. You're going to go to translate dot google dot com right here. Ah, and I'm using safari right now. I'm gonna, as you can see here. Google's really pushing me here to get chrome. There's an advantage to using Crume, and I'll cover that in the next segment. But first, let's just get a feel for how, uh, Google translate works as it stands right here in the browser. So it's quite simple you and it puts in text in a transit translates once, and it supposed to detect automatically the language. I go once upon a time, uh, detect language, Detective English. And then I tell it what language I wanted to go to in Korea. And there were you and what's nice about it? It's really over the years is a machine Translation. This is called machine Translation machine. Translation is an old word. It goes back to the time when computers were actually called machines. I b m, by the way, stands for international business machines. So computers were machines being machines at the time machine. Translation comes out of that. What Google's using now is actually known as neural machine translation, which is a more sophisticated, more user friendly type of machine translation a little more unpredictable as well. So pure quality is gonna very significant. So this is not something you would use for a legal document or anything. Mission critical. But it is something that is hugely valuable for getting the gist of something. And, in fact, translators, professional, transsexual sometimes use. This is a first pass. It has gotten that good kind of a dirty little secret. Some don't admit it, but it does speed up their workflow. It doesn't mean that the quality is gonna be any less because they just uses the first pass . And then they do the final editing work themselves. But the fact that they are using it is a sign that the quality of Google translate has gotten better and better and better over the years. Now it's fascinating to May is just the sheer number of languages supported by this software. There's more than 100 and eso will you have your language pairs eso this in this case, what I just showed you would be English to Korean language pair if I were to change the target language. This is the source language here on the left target language on the right that contains two Dutch, other different language pair the quality from English to another. Language tends to be quite good generally when you get into any stay within major languages . But if you start to get into more less used language pair say I was gonna do Armenian to Korean. That might be a little more challenging. Uh, so you just you just have to keep that in mind, uh, Group Ultra. Because of the mean machine translation engine. It relies on a lot of input text pairs of properly translated source and target text, and that trains the engine. So the more of this input it has to learn from. And it does learn, the better the quality and some language pairs air. Just not that much material to draw from yet. And that's that's changing, literally daily show. One thing that that when people criticize machine translation, they will. They will do something like that. So we'll take up his texting once upon a time translated into Korean and then the Korean and and you can buy clicking this, you could translate back it and actually went to Army. And strange not to English. Wait a minute long, long time ago. That's not that's weird. Eso This is called a round trip translations where I start with English, I go into another language. I take that output and then translate back in English at more times than not. It doesn't come back the way it left, and that is just a function of machine translation. It's a function of translation. In general, it is not. Translation is an art. It's a science and an art, and the art is where the professional translator comes into it. But just keep in mind that, yes, this does highlight the fact that this is not clearly a 1 to 1 workflow. It's This is generally also not a scenario you're going to do. Your typical scenario is in. He's translating something from a different language into your language. You're not doing round trip translation. So? So if someone were to point out a round trip translation flaw, that's just that's gonna happen. It's gonna help. Now if you really want to play with it, what I recommend is I usually use Wikipedia because you have a lot of content in different languages to play with. This is a biography of George Stellar. I just I'm just gonna grabs Spanish text fear a copy it. I dumped it in here and she detected I hit the detect language Spanish, and then it comes out. And so you can if you read this, it's not the most eloquently translated, but it works, and I and I get a great sense of it. And I can actually compare it with English here as well if I wanted toe. Although keep in mind, Wikipedia is not machine translator These air individual content contributors for each language. But it's a good way of just getting a feel for Google Translate. The other thing you can do is you connect, protect the U. R L. It just stop it in here, Sam. What Korean? And it will actually translate the Web page in. It's entire, and I have mentioned why why the white Wikipedia's great website to machine translate? Because, as I noted in other classes, there's not a lot of text embedded with an image. It's it's It's a heavily text based page, so almost everything will be translated. And this is just another way of of using Google, translate. So this gives you an, ah, high level understanding of Google. Translate. There's also one other thing you can do here and you can add this little website translator into your your website. I'm not gonna go through the full process of doing this, but I would just This is how you do it and I level you just I would say by level com is your all of my website language of my website in English. And I put this in on, um, it should output a widget. Maybe I have to do. I didn't didn't next, okay? And then I have plug ins settings. I can have a support, all languages or specific languages. I can choose display and and then I get the code right here. And I can just drop this in to my You can also use Google. You can also use their WordPress plug ins and do something very similar. This is just another way of unlocking content, not just for yourself, but for people who visit your website. Okay, so there's one more element to this. I'm gonna get it to it in the next segment. This is using Google Chrome, which takes Google translate to a higher level of integration. 5. Google Translation in action, Part 2: So now I'm using Google Chrome and I met Wikipedia dot org's, and we're going to see what Google Crume does that you're not going to see with Fire, Fox or Safari without the benefit of a plug in. Because chrome, of course, is made by Google, Chrome has built in Google. Translated what it's also built into chrome is the ability to identify languages. It's not perfect. What it does is looks at a small snip. Snip it of the text, and it has an algorithm that uses to identify the language they can get confused if deep is for between languages that are closely related German and Dutch, for example. But it is generally quite powerful. So let's society polish. Uh, I will see this little display here, and this is Google translate just built right, and I can click this. Translate the page on their options. Of course, I can always translate it. Never change languages. I could get really crazy. I can Let's try another website. So if you're if you you're gonna if you're using chrome, you're going to see this a lot. Uh, sometimes you don't want, um and translate and and now it's translated to English. Now, if you run into sections of the page where text has been vetted within the image which machine here on the actual apple watch with French, that's not going to change it. Can Onley translate what is text based? And that's something to keep in mind when you develop websites and you put content on the Internet and you can see right here it is translating everything, but it's not translating anything that's in a video that's in text. Um, so that is something to absolutely keep in mind. You want your website to be his translation. Friendly machine. Translation friendly. It's possible. So have fun with Google. Translate. It is not. It's not perfect. But if it's an amazing resource for unlocking content and I've used it to purchase goods online and from websites in languages, I didn't understand it. I've actually seen it from beginning to end, have done that. But mostly I use just for research first purposes, just forgetting, ah, high level understanding of what's going on, and I recommend that you I take full advantage of it and, of course, is not the only machine translation engine out there, and I'll show you a few more very shortly 6. Other machine translation engines: to be fair to others. Other companies Besides Google, Google is not the only machine translation engine available, although it is by far the most popular and the most linguistically powerful. What I have here is Microsoft translation engine. I go to being dot com translator. I think you could probably go to translate dot Microsoft dot com to, but it's very similar. Set up Teoh Teoh to Google Translate. So I'll just take some text. Here are take up Cyrillic Russian Cyrillic script. Russian text Paste it in here detects it automatically, and there we have the out, but and and there are a significant number of languages here, but fewer than half the number of languages supported by Google translate. But it's definitely something you can use. You can also license it as well. Ah, and of course, it's built into a lot of APS. That's something that I didn't go it into too much detail before. But just like Justice, Google Translate is available in Mobile APS. So is the Microsoft Translator. It's available with an outlook and power point. Of course. Mobile APS. If you really want to get into the weeds machine translation engines, I would go to this Web page. Wikipedia has a comparison. More detailed list of all the different machine translation engines and and their availability. Summer open source. Moses is definitely one that's that's most popular in this regard. Open source. Meaning you. If you wanted to create your own machine translation engine within your organization and optimize it for your content, you could do that if you have the skills to do so. There are also, of course, a lot of start up companies that are leveraging machine translation engines. Smart Cat would be one small car small but getting quite large company that that has platforms developed for translation agencies, translators, companies that allow you to use the cloud, pull everyone together and manage content. And also use machine translation to accelerate translation. And there are companies like STL, of course, is another company. That that does. This is well provides another platform for four connecting translators. You see her machine translation, Um so and you start to dive into Google translate. You're really getting a feel for the future of translation. It is. It is by far the most powerful translation tool on the planet. It is translating billions of words a day and it is unlocking content for people around the world. It is providing a greater good, I believe the greater good. And it is something that I rely on. And I know a lot of other people who rely on it. And as a quality continues to improve, it will continue to be a valuable tool. So if you have questions going forward, please contact me. Please spend a lot of time. I it could be on being translate Google Translate your translation engine. If true choice. Have some fun with play around with it to see what goes right what goes wrong. But really give it a good workout and and see what it can do for you. Um and, uh, stay in touch. OK, thank you.