I copied this here from php Wiki with permission of MichaelVanDam?? --MattisManzel

This is quite elemental. It is actually the basis for world wide justice.

I can write in whatever language. The page shows me all original text and all translated and corrected text, but it shows no pure machine translation. I can though request machine translation of any part of text to whatever language. After the machine translation I can correct this text. When I correct the text is a corrected translation and appears as such when the page is called up. If I don't correct it, it does not. Superior to this my selection of displayed languages in my preferences. I choose English and German, I do not choose Chinese. A Chinese-only speaker writes a page in Chinese. I see: there's a new page in Chinese, as I can't read it, it does not interest me. A Chinese/English now speaker reads it, thinks it's good, and corrects the machine translation. I see: The Chinese page has been translated to English and now I can read it and - if I think it's worth it - translate it to German. A German-only speaker could now read it and answer. I think it's a good answer and translate it to English. The Chinese/English speaker thinks so as well and translates it to Chinese. Now the Chinese only speaker can read the German-only speakers answer. It is a little exiting to think this on a bigger scale, isn't it? CollectiveIntelligence. MattisManzel

This sounds like an interesting idea. If I am reading correctly, you are suggesting every time you write a new (and I guess edit an old) page, that automatically it generates machine translated versions into your chosen languages. If you edit these, they are saved also, if you do not edit them, they aren't saved. I have one question though: what if there is an English page called 'abc' which also has a German translation. Now suppose I edit page 'abc' by adding a lot of stuff. Suppose I don't really speak any other language and can't translate very well. Now the German version of 'abc' doesn't match the English version of 'abc'. How is this resolved, or how are german-and-english speakers notified? (I guess this applies to any translation scheme, so it is not meant to be a question about MattisManzel's idea in particular.) --MichaelVanDam???

Not quite like that. No automatic translation takes place unless I request it. No automatic translation makes part of the text. Unless it has been edited no automatic translation gets part of the text. So there are two steps to do: 1.) select the desired part of the text and request automatic translation for it. 2.) edit this automatic translation. Only then the translated text appears as a part of the page from beginning on. I think this might be a way to select the important from the less important. An English-only speaker opening such a page will see: Aha, parts of a text have been translated, so it's possible that it's content in some or another way is more important than the other. If you just automatically translate everything it's one big Babel and no one cares for the translation. Having to take two steps to make a translation part of the text, will improve quality. Someone who does that, took time and there must have been a reason for him to have done so. This mostly takes to run all multilingual parallel. Sentence by sentence. Not an easy task, I admit. Multiple languages text is easy to read if languages are in different text colors. The user should also be enabled to filter out content in other languages. Ways to see the page 1.) Only text in the chosen language(s), no translation indication 2.) Text in the chosen language(s), but an indication which parts of text has been translated to other (not chosen) languages. The indication could be a little flag and an slim underline or dotted line under the part of text translated. I.e. I see a text, my settings are: show English and German text, indicate all other translations. A good part of the text has been already translated to German. I read this first. As it interest me I read the complete English text. By the indication I see, parts which haven't been translated to German have been translated to Chinese others to Hungarian, which I both do not understand. I check these in English though, one sentence I think is important and should be translated to German, so I request the machine translation for it, I correct it, done. This isn't something that works with few participants, this takes many people. The idea behind is a common evaluation of content. That's the essential thing to do. Another way to do it would be by poll-tools. This contribution is one point, this one is seven points to me. It's my individual subjective vote. A vote can't be but subjective. Communities have to learn the use of poll tools, like babies have to lean to use their eyes. The sum of subjective voting makes common objectivity. --MattisManzel

Hmmm, I like the idea of partial translations… something I had not thought about. I think I understand more clearly what you are suggesting but I guess my original question still remains. If a portion of English text has been translated to German and Chinese, and I edit that piece of English text, the German and Chinese versions of that piece of text are no longer accurate translations (suppose that I don't have the fluency to attempt a good edit of the German or Chinese versions). Are the German and Chinese versions to be 'deleted', or could they somehow be flagged as 'out of sync' so someone with the necessary set of language skills can make the modifications? An even more complicated scenario: suppose I change the English version, someone else (who doesn't speak English) changes the German version. Now the changed English version may not correspond to the changed German version. Which takes priority? When someone wants to update the Chinese translation, which one should they use as the new basis for the updated translation? Does this make sense? I think for relatively static pages this could work quite well and slowly evolve to a very good quality translation in many languages, but I wonder about a wiki with possibly very dynamic pages if things would remain in sync. I suppose they could if there are a lot of people continually monitoring updates. Also, it seems that wiki updates mostly (but not completely) seem to consist of additions to a page rather than corrections. Maybe the scenario I suggest wouldn't be all that common. --MichaelVanDam???

Maybe. I really can't tell, but I'd be very interested to try out what would happen, how people would behave. The technical aspect would have big influence on people's behavior I think. How should it look like and would like. Who could be in what way interested in it? As a matter of fact finding a way to deal with the synchronization problems is finding a way for multilingual (global) collaboration. On whatever issue. Changes should be flagged, yes. The other text now "out of synch" shouldn't be deleted, no. Will someone translate the new or translate back the old text?. Maybe he'll even write a third thought in another language. It depends on providing convenient translation tools (no automation though, two steps to be done) and, yes, the good will of the participating people. Maybe a bunch of translators and language interested people could get it going and develop a certain common behavior for it, I'd like to hope so. It's a community learning process just like the use of poll tools, which I'm interested in as well. I have been improvising on the software idea on

Selective translation would have been a better title. Translating is a form of voting. By translating something you repeat the content in another code (language). You enlarge the pool of possible receptors for the content. You open other common views on it. You think in language. About love for example. It can be thought about love in all languages. Swahili, lojban, Danish. All the thoughts about love – you could divide them into the languages they are thought in. Then the German and the Russian and the English lot would all be human thoughts, but they would be different, only slightly different maybe but different. This is important. It makes the difference why collective multilingual thinking will be superior to collective monolingual thinking. 031208 22:33 CET – MattisManzel


Copied to MeatBall:PartialTranslation as well – MattisManzel

This is a pretty cool idea !

I'm doing research in NaturalLanguageProcessing. I'm intersted in ComputerAssistedLanguageLearning?, and therefore also to the neighbouring field of ComputerAssistedTranslation?.

Has anybody actually ever tried this ? I remember reading that the problem with machine translation is that it didn't make things much quicker - directly tranlating the original page goes as fast (The only advantage may be that the final editor may not need to be able to read the original language, but I'm not sure that'd give very good results.

An interesting and related issue is ShallowTranslation?. Instead of using a full intelligent translator like babelfish, you jus translate bits and pieces, enough for you to understand the original material if you also know it a bit. I like ShallowTranslation? because it can be a very good language learning assistant.

But anyway the idea here (basically the idea behind the MultilingualExperiment, right ?) is nice :)

What kind of on-line tool is helpful to effectivate a translation work depends largely on your skills in the languages and the kind of text to translate. As far as I know two kinds of tools exist:

  • Tools that completyly translate a pasted text or an entire webpage. Babelfish. Systran
  • Tools that translate a word or an idiomatic expression. Babylon.
    Babylon is windows only at the moment. There have been several attempts to make the babylon databases useable in linux.

For me babylon is the more effective tool. It replaces a dictionary. You select a word, press strg + rightclick on it and a window appears above showing you the translation (the window closes, when you move the cursor out of it). This works online, or - if you have downloaded the language glossary - offline (without delay). You can have special language glossaries installed like slang and computer jargon as well as even a reduced brittanica. People can and do write and contribute new glossaries to the collection. It is pretty powerful. A disadvantage is: translations are (almost) only from or to English. No French - German for example. :(
When reading you instantly look up an unknown word with a click (it works in text documents, pdf and in webpages - but not within pictures). When writing you just write the unknown word in your language click it and there you got the translation (a hundred times faster than looking it up in a dictionary + you have tranlations to other languages - you learn them translating + the little brittanica). There is even a working voice function that makes a voice pronounce the translated word for you. New versions - I just read - now have retranslation, showing you in your language what else the translated word means. Like that you find out the "sourrounding" of it. All the "babylon for linux" projects seem dead btw, a pitty (maybe we could revitalize them).
Automatic translation of a complete text is pretty often pretty wrong, mainly because sentences get constructed differently in different languages and the machines do not handle that yet. The advantage you have of babelfish-like fulltext translation is to get one single translation of an unknown word (whereas babylon-like programs give you several + explanation + retranslation), the disadvantage is you have a wrong grammatical construct to repair. Not when it's simple short-sentence text (there it's faster), but as soon as it gets a little more complex doing that takes at least as long as writing it all new, and often the result turns out more stiff (as you repair, you don't speak).
Idealy (that's in a year + ;)) both kind of tools should be integrated in wiki editing mode, a babylon like tool should also be integrated in reading mode (!!!). So all of us foreigners can read our english better and learn. And surely the other way around. We need that as urgently free and open as a free and open VoIP application. An [OpenBabylon? open babylon] not reduced to translations from and to English will be a big big help to language fairness. It will reduce viscosity and make information flow better.

Multilingual wikilandia desperately needs an integrated free and open-babylon. It also needs automatic translation of complete texts, yes.

Do you know about [StarDict] ? it seems pretty Babylon-like (though I don't know much about babylon), I use if for german and chinese, and, even though most dictionaries are english <-→ something else, there ar exceptions like french <-→ german.

And it's even simpler to use ! While it's running, just select the text you want to translate and there you go ! :)

Great, the interface looks good, but I do not find any dictionaries to install. It seems to me as if it is against the licences to use any of the existing ones. Wouldn't that be a job for wikipedia to create such open dictionaries? – Mattis Manzel

Is there a wiki dedicated to natural-language translation (perhaps including machine translation) ? If not, what is currently the most relevant wiki for such discussions ? The MeatBall:JoaoMiranda wiki is offline. It seems redundant to discuss it on many wiki --

DavidCary DavidCary 2004-09-10 21:44 UTC

Mattis : You should find the dictionaries on this page (several sub-pages), or don't they work ? I got it working under both linux and windows. I looked at the dictionatries, they seem to be under the GPL.

Found them. The links have no color on the page, therefore I didn't get it. Great, stardict is even more clever and faster than Babylon. Thanks a lot for this precious information. Stardict is a must for every polyglotte wikizen. It's free and open and it therefore exists. Use stardict, not Babylon. The copyrighted world seems more and more perverted to me every minute I use free and open software.


Define external redirect: ShallowTranslation ComputerAssistedLanguageLearning MichaelVanDam OpenBabylon ComputerAssistedTranslation

EditNearLinks: NaturalLanguageProcessing


The same page elsewhere: