Monday, 29 September 2008

Hungarian machine translation

Vital communication aid freely available

The Hungarian language is a colossal problem for anyone wishing to make a serious study of ‘Conductive Education’ (as we call things in English). Other than expat Hungarians and their children, hardly anyone outside Hungary understands the language and very few people indeed are able to learn it, throwing the whole burden of communication upon one side of the interaction, upon the Magyars (and if you don’t know what a Magyar is then you really are at a very basic stage indeed!).

This, however, is the twenty-first century, so what about computer translation? After all, the technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. Has anyone yet cracked the algorithms to bridge the huge linguistic gulf between Hungarian and what Hungarians call ‘languages’?

Until now I had thought not. Then last week I saw on László Szögetczki’s blog a link to Webforditas, published free on the Internet by the Hungarian company MorphoLogic.

I have gratefully taken my lead from László and installed the link under the heading HUNGARIAN TRANSLATION at the foot of this page. Other conductive bloggers may like to consider doing the same.

Accessing Webforditas

If for example you have a short passage to translate (a maximum at one go of 512 characters) click on the Text tab that you will find in the little box installed under the heading HUNGARIAN TRANSATION at the foot of the left-hand column.

Cut out what you want translated into English and paste it in the space provided. You may then find yourself on a Hungarian-language page. You can either be bold, making sure that the translation is set to Magyar-Angol (‘Hungarian-English’) and then clicking on Fordít (‘Translate’). The English translation will then appear in a new box underneath the first. Or you can simply click on English version towards the upper right of the page and follow the instructions that you find there.

If you would prefer it, direct links are given below to both the English and Hungarian versions.

Using Webforditas

Machine translations, however good, are rarely perfect. No matter, they usually give you an idea at least of the general subject of a text and you can then struggle with a dictionary or find someone who does speak the language to find out what exactly is being said about this topic.

At least in future you can have some clue as to whether something you see, say on the Internet, might have a bearing to you (and note that one of the facilities of Webforditas is translation direct from Websites). Oh, how I wish that this tool had been around twenty-five years ago!

The site is generally easy to use, so go ahead and try it. If I have a criticism, it is that it would be nice for the little Webforditas box that I have installed on this page to have an obvious way to take English-speakers direct to the English-language page. I suspect that would result in more people's using the service.

Notes

Webforditas (in English)
http://www.webforditas.hu/index.php?show=textTab&lang=english

Webforditas (Magyarul)
http://www.webforditas.hu/

For a translation box on your own site/blog

László Szögetczki’s CE blog
http://szogeczki.blogspot.com/

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