My, Easter eggs aren't what they used to be in 1995.
October 23, 2007 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
posted by Poolio at 6:05 PM on October 23, 2007

Can someone explain how Google’s new translation system is better than the old one? My Google-fanboi roommate says it is, but it seems like it’s of much lower quality now. Like if all of a sudden only Jimmy Wales could edit Wikipedia.
posted by tepidmonkey at 6:07 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've posted things I've seen on reddit and digg to MeFi before, but I'm really starting to wonder if it's breaking the "most people haven't seen it" guideline. I realize not everyone who reads MeFi these other sites, but there's been so many weak posts here lately that were on these other sites days ago, I think I'm going to start flagging the weaker ones as "it breaks the guidelines" This "story" is #1 or reddit as I type this, and it'll probably be in the top 10 on digg tommorow. The link itself is pretty weak, regardless, IMO.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2007

"sarkozy is chirac"
posted by Partial Law at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2007

I agree with Beerfilter above. I just expect somewhat better-quality links on Metafilter than what I usually see on Digg or Reddit. Gimme something with meat! Meatfilter!
posted by chasing at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2007

(Although it would be nice to edit one's own comments for a few minutes after making it. Sheesh. I meant to say "I realize not everyone who reads MeFi reads these other sites..." and "This "story" is #1 on reddit...")
posted by BeerFilter at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2007

Gimme something with meat!

boucherie sarkozy sarkozy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

malkovich, malkovich, malkovich?
posted by matt_od at 6:37 PM on October 23, 2007

posted by Richard Daly at 6:53 PM on October 23, 2007

Mod note: a few comments removed, nothing personal team but let's keep the derail in Meta. Prost!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 PM on October 23, 2007

posted by chinston at 7:29 PM on October 23, 2007


posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:31 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Google translates “sarkozy sarkozy sarkozy” into “Blair defends Bush” when chosing French to English translation
Why? I have a hard time imagining a bug that would cause this. And easter eggs are supposed to be clever or funny, right? So why does it do that?
posted by hjo3 at 7:37 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Kaposi's sarkozy is no laughing matter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:49 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

*Selects English to English*

*Clicks translate*

= "English professors are more annoying than programmers sneak in lame easter eggs"
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:51 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

This isn’t an Easter egg. It’s a bug in the new translation system Google is using. I think it works by lining up texts and assuming one is a perfect and exact translation of the other. Or something. I don’t know for sure.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:59 PM on October 23, 2007

Back in the day, running 'vampyr' through Systran (English -> German -> English) returned "Irish Irish Irish". Here's what from playing with Google Translate:

vampyr (en) -> Vampyr (de)
vampyr (de) -> Sixer (en)
Sixer (en) -> Ricardo (de)
ricardo (de) -> Ricardo (en)

Sometimes Google Translate treats capitalization as meaningful, sometimes not; 'vampyr' is handled differently, with and without an initial cap as is 'sixer'. But my short experiment indicates that any arbitrary words will normalize to Ricardo.
posted by ardgedee at 8:29 PM on October 23, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Mushroom mushroom.
posted by neuron at 9:27 PM on October 23, 2007

Huh, I think I've figured out part of what's going on. When you enter "Sarkozy Sarkozy Sarkozy" into the translation window it simply spits out "Sarkozy Sarkozy Sarkozy" as the translation. So, it treats capitalized words differently from all-lower case words. When I put in "poubelle Poubelle poubelle" it gives me "Trash trash trash." So it assumes that the lowercase sarkozy is a word, not a name. That makes the "Bush" part of "sarkozy sarkozy sarkozy" seemingly explainable, in English the word "president" is often followed by "Bush" while in French it's often followed by "sarkozy." How "Blair" and "defends" got there is murkier.

That's my theory, anyway.
posted by Kattullus at 11:17 PM on October 23, 2007

Huh, I think I've figured out part of what's going on.

I thought pranksters were gaming the "suggest a better translation" function, or that it was an inside job with the translation system people (the "Easter egg" suggestion), because there ain't no way an honestly constructed translation system is going to turn "Sarkozy Sarkozy Sarkozy" into "Blair defends Bush" without some help. You're saying a neither of these are the case?
posted by pracowity at 11:50 PM on October 23, 2007

I completely blew a central element of my comment, rendering my argument unintelligible: "poubelle Poubelle poubelle" becomes "Poubelle trash trash." There... now my comment actually makes sense. Stupid sleep-deprivation.

I don't actually know how the new Google translation widget works in practice (or theory) but it seems to have a real problem with names. Your comment makes a lot of sense, pracowity, I'd love to find out what's going on.
posted by Kattullus at 5:52 AM on October 24, 2007

chirac sarkozy chirac outputs Bush defends Moss. See, always looking out for the little guy.
posted by romanb at 6:16 AM on October 24, 2007

This was news to me (I don't check out Reddit or Digg, so, hey, thanks for posting this).

One of the new aspects of Google's translator is that you, the audience, can suggest improved translations for each chunk of machine-translated text. Very wiki-web2.0-ish. Obviously this could be gamed, and I wonder if that's what we're seeing here.

I'm assuming they have some kind of vetting process or consensus translation to cope with this. I asked a friend who works at Google if he could shed any light on how that works. Naturally he couldn't tell me anything.
posted by adamrice at 11:24 AM on October 24, 2007

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