[SWLUG] Announcing apertium-cy-en pre-alpha

Neil Jones neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Mon Jun 30 09:04:02 UTC 2008

On Sun, 2008-06-29 at 21:21 +0100, Jimmy O'Regan wrote: 
> 2008/6/29 Jimmy O'Regan <joregan at gmail.com>:
> > Hi
> >
> > We at the Apertium project (http://www.apertium.org) have an extremely
> > broken Welsh<->English translation in progress, that's now available
> Oops. That should be 'translator', not 'translation'  :)
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Interesting project. It is quite a challenge to get it working I'll bet.

Well it obviously isn't working perfectly yet but it isn't disastrous.
The biggest problem seems to be lack of vocabulary. There is an
infamously broken translator called intertran that is live on the web
and that people have actually used to translate road and shop signs.
When I tell you that at one time it was translating apostrophe N. ('n)
an essential part of many present tense Welsh sentences as "Heartburn",
you'll understand the level of the problem. It turned "cyclists
dismount" into "inflammation of the bladder overturn" and "staff and
pupils' entrance" into "stick and pupils thrown into a trance". Those
are real signs that have appeared around Wales.

Having said that human translations often are not much better. We have
nitwits around who think you can translate with a pocket dictionary.
You get things like shops selling "traffic jam and marmalade" and
whisky labelled "ghosts" instead of spirits.

 My favourite at present has to be a set of notices in Swansea put up by
the Police with their phone number on them. The English says "No
parking. Tow away zone." and a hyper polite translation of the Welsh is
"No parking. Masturbation zone". Flickr has hundreds of examples from
all around Wales in an area called Sgymraeg.

This web page is part of the local Welsh Language Society website and
you can see the tow away sign there.


A few problems I have noticed. Your translator doesn't cope with some of
the verbs properly and there is a problem with a peculiar genitive

An example from the site above is "Mae croeso i pyrfyrts y ddinas yma".
It should be "There is a welcome to the perverts of the city here."
Or even "There is a welcome to the city's perverts here".

It gives "Is welcome pyrfyrts the city here". OK it is understandable
but I don't know how much of that understanding is because I speak

It needs to cope with "mae" meaning "there is" without compromising the
ability to cope with periphrastic verbal constructions properly.

The absence of an indefinite article in Welsh doesn't help either.

The second problem in that sentence it the construction where Welsh uses
"SomethingA the SomthingB" to represent "The SomethingA of the
SomethingB". I have seen it referred to as the "Pobol y Cwm"
construction after the BBC's Welsh language soap opera.
(the) People (of) the Valley.

Another one I have noticed is "y bydd" being translated as "the will".
where it should be "that will". 

I think the Welsh to English translator is best to concentrate on.
Practically all Welsh speakers speak English apart from those in
Patagonia. I did actually see a shepherd on Cader Idris (a mountain up
north) on the BBC recently who didn't, he pretty obviously had a degree
of learning difficulty as his Welsh wasn't particularly coherent either.

Neil Jones
neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk

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