Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Statistical Translation

I saw an interesting painting on my mother-in-law's wall, signed (in Cyrillic) "A. Lozhkin".  So I looked him up, and here he is - Александр Егорович Ложкин, which transliterates to Alexandr Egorovich Lozhkin.  My browser - Google Chrome - offered to translate the page, so I let it, and the translated name is "Alexander Zhukovsky Lozhkin".  How did that happen?  I'm aware that Google Translate (which gives the same result) uses a statistical approach to translation rather than applying any rules, so it makes mistakes like not realising that Ложкина is the genitive of Ложкин, but what inspired it to make up a completely new name for him?

You might be more interested in how a painting by a People's Artist of Udmurtia ended up in a terraced house in Cullercoats.  There was a story about a sailor relative docking in Leningrad that I didn't quite grasp: I'll try harder next time.

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