The Southeast Asian population in WA must be getting bigger all the time....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/08/12 10:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/08/12/8849788.aspx


So I went up to http://vote.wa.gov/ the other day after seeing a commercial about it.

I was in a very suggestive frame of mind, having just been trying to get to the exact part of the recording of the Conan O'Brien show where I could see the B-52s play. In my eagerness to not miss even the introduction, I just watched most of the commercial at normal speed.

I tend to vote by absentee ballot, but there are things that can draw me out, quite predictably.

Some people have porn; I have performances where Kate Pearson is on stage. What can I say? :-)

Anyway, so I went up to the site to see what they had in the way of resources for voters, and I noticed at the botom of the page an Information in Additional Languages section, powered by Systran, for the following languages:

and then a link to the disclaimer:

Translations of the Secretary of State web site are made through an automated/computerized process powered by Systran. Neither the State of Washington nor any agency, officer, or employee of the State of Washington warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information translated by this system and shall not be liable for any losses caused by such reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the translation, portions may be incorrect. Any person or entity who relies on information obtained from the system does so at his or her own risk.

Now the list was interesting, and not just because half of the languages are not available on the Systran service supported by Yahoo.

Oh who am I kidding, that is the part I found most interesting. :-)

I was going to play around with reversibility of the translations since they seem to be recent Systran additions but I could not find a site to try and reverse them (Google's translation page, for example, doesn't support them).

Any speakers of Khmer, Lao, or Vietnamese care to speak as to translation quality? This is a great step and I am hoping this is an indication of future directions of these services!

Well, that and wondering how to convince Kate to move to the first district and run for congress? :-)

On a more serious note, I am very interested in the triage process involved in picking languages here -- especially when one thinks of languages on the conventional Systran list that are supported in places like the STS at SeaTac but which don't make it on the list here.

The whole thing freaked me out a little, actually. Imagine a lawsuit about election tampering based on targeting particular communities by not providing the translation that the system could support. And I thought Microsoft had worries figuring out its supported languages!


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# hangfromthefloor on 16 Aug 2008 5:46 PM:

I read the bulleted list too fast and thought it said, "Lambodish."


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