Bilingual blogging in a Google Translate world

OK, just done a blog post on here in Welsh. It’s not my first use of Welsh online. I’ve emailed and used Twitter and commented on other blogs and things in Welsh. But a full blog post. Boof. It took ages to write!

I wanted to jot down some assorted observations and lessons learned.

Google Translate was a fun toy to use at the end. I enjoyed that. There was a surprise application – it actually picked up several typos. Example: I saw the word “penderfyny” in the result and was able to fix the spelling to “penderfynu” (decide) and so on. I suppose I could have got this from a dedicated grammar checker like Cysill.

Some things you think are obvious come out wrongly. “Dyn ni’n gwybod” becomes “Man we know”. And before now I’ve seen it render “Caerdydd” as “Bridgend” which is totally wrong. These are byproducts of its statistical approach. If it had a few cheeky rules in there it would be a killer.

Oddly when it translated “Islwyn Ffowc Elis”, a person’s name, it rendered it as “Elis Islwyn Fawkes”. I had a moment of mild disgust where I assumed it had got this from data originating on Wikipedia. It turns out “Guto Ffowc” is what the Welsh call Guy Fawkes. In theory this data could have been taken from any source in both languages. I don’t think it’s using Wikipedia, let’s hope not…

Some of it came out ultra-cryptic. It could be partly my Welsh as well as the translation algorithm. Occasionally it has a poetic quality.

I’m particularly fond of the intro

This is my first post in the old language. First post is usually quite difficult. She felt as a step in the new domain.

Although I think the ambiguity of the following, in relation to use and abuse of technology, is unfortunate.

They see abuse and will see good things.

For the WordPress freaks – and because it is such a fantastic piece of software, there are only non-users and freaks – I am using a plug-in called Basic Bilingual by Stephanie Booth for the summary bit. This automatically inserts HTML language code and allows you to tweak your design through the CSS. It gives you an extra admin field for the summary bit. Mine was an English summary for a post in Welsh but you can do it with any two languages. It worked for me first time.

[UPDATE: actually I just lost the summary for some reason, after fixing a typo and saving. So I’ve reverted just to pasting it into the post. It might be fixable with the plug-in…]

I had a minor quandry with tags and categories. (The quickest way to explain the difference is an analogy with a book. Tags form your index page and categories are your contents. Kind of.)

I have a back history of tags and categories here. My blog has an English-language interface, with most posts in English but now some posts (OK, one) in Welsh. In the end, I decided to stick with the English language categories. For tags I have used Welsh language and tagged again with English translations.

For proper names like Google I’ll be retaining them, rather than using things like Gwgl, Trydar (Twitter) and Gweplyfr (Facebook). Which I have seen in use! These recall a comic tradition apparently popularised by playwright WS Jones.

Here’s the problem. If you click the “Google Translate” tag you’ll see all posts that relate to it. If you click “blogging” you’ll see all posts that relate to that. But if you click “blogio”, you’ll only see posts in Welsh about blogging. I’ll see how it goes. I can always go back and re-tag (the joy!).

There’s always search, that will work.

(Incidentally don’t you think “blog” itself, the very sound of the word, fits very neatly into Welsh?)

I think I’ve covered everything except comments. The visitor comments here are a mixture of English and Welsh, which is fine by me. (Elsewhere on the web I suppose it could be good etiquette to comment in the language of the post – if in doubt. But that’s a possible guideline not a rule.)

This is a personal blog. I’m a human being and want this to be reasonably spontaneous, like talking to your face.

My blog, my way! If anything, blogging is about freedom.


So feel free to comment below. Or set up your own blog and comment there in the language of YOUR choice.