Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
User avatar
AcademiaNut
White Belt
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:54 pm
Location: U.S.A.
Languages: English (N).
Spanish (beginner), French (beginner).
Medium interest: Latin, Dutch, German.
Mild interest: Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek, Hawaiian.
x 25

Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby AcademiaNut » Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:01 am

I am using the online Yandex translator (yandex.com) for English to Spanish to determine the number of sentence patterns that exist in Spanish. Yandex is new to me so I do not know if its translations are accurate. Does anybody know if the following translations are accurate? Are they accurate for the meaning that is likely intended by the English sentence?

[English] The priest built the town a church.
[Spanish] El sacerdote construyó la ciudad una iglesia.

[English] The boxer punched the wall a new hole.
[Spanish] El boxeador golpeó la pared un nuevo agujero.

[English] The secret weapon blasted the moon a new crater.
[Spanish] El arma secreta arruinó la luna un nuevo cráter.
0 x

Cainntear
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1843
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 4615
Contact:

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby Cainntear » Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:20 pm

No, the two-object pattern is very much English.

So while in English we can say "I gave the dog a bone" or "I gave a bone to the dog", in most languages we have to translate the latter, not the former.

Also, in most dialects of English your 2nd and 3rd sentences would be considered ungrammatical. The structure tends to indicate something for someone's benefit; in sentence 1 "the town" would be read as being for the benefit of the community/population/townsfolk, but the wall and the moon don't represent anyone of anything with desires, needs or volition.

Machine translation is first and foremost a reading tool, not a writing one. Its goal is to render text you cannot understand into something that you can, even if it is not grammatically correct. The rules and patterns used in machine translation are only a very rough approximation of the target language, so if you try to derive your rules from machine translation tools, your rules will be an imperfect copy of a very rough approximation. If you want to do this properly, you will have to start with a grammar book. I think a pocket grammar will serve your needs best, as the lack of space leads them to be more precise, clear and straightforward.
3 x

User avatar
El Forastero
Orange Belt
Posts: 124
Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:10 am
Location: Colombia
Languages: Spanish (N), French (C1), English (C1), Italian (C1), Portuguese (C1), German (Beginner), Russian (begineer), Wayuunaiki (Beginner)
x 384
Contact:

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby El Forastero » Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:22 pm

No, they are very innacurate translations:
AcademiaNut wrote:[English] The priest built the town a church.
[Spanish] El sacerdote construyó la ciudad una iglesia.

The right translation would be: El sacerdote le construyó una iglesia al pueblo o El sacerdote le construyó al pueblo una iglesia. (Pay attention to this le, which is a pronoun that would replace "el pueblo", but in spanish this double indirect complement souns by far more natural.
AcademiaNut wrote:[English] The boxer punched the wall a new hole.
[Spanish] El boxeador golpeó la pared un nuevo agujero.

The right translation would be: El boxeador abrió de un puño un nuevo agujero en la pared. "Golpear un agujero" doesn't make sense
AcademiaNut wrote:[English] The secret weapon blasted the moon a new crater.
[Spanish] El arma secreta arruinó la luna un nuevo cráter.

The right translation would be: El arma secreta abrió un nuevo cráter en la luna or ... dejó un nuevo cráter en la luna
6 x
Please correct my errors in any tongue.
Visit my blog (In spanish)
Visit my youtube channel (In spanish)
: 4 / 10 10 C1 before being 55 years old
: 11 / 52 One year studying Russian.
Are you looking for an online spanish tutor?

User avatar
AcademiaNut
White Belt
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:54 pm
Location: U.S.A.
Languages: English (N).
Spanish (beginner), French (beginner).
Medium interest: Latin, Dutch, German.
Mild interest: Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek, Hawaiian.
x 25

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby AcademiaNut » Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:26 am

Cainntear wrote:No, the two-object pattern is very much English.

So while in English we can say "I gave the dog a bone" or "I gave a bone to the dog", in most languages we have to translate the latter, not the former.

Also, in most dialects of English your 2nd and 3rd sentences would be considered ungrammatical. The structure tends to indicate something for someone's benefit; in sentence 1 "the town" would be read as being for the benefit of the community/population/townsfolk, but the wall and the moon don't represent anyone of anything with desires, needs or volition.


Excellent information, thanks.

Yes, those last two English sentences sounded very strange to me, even as a native English speaker, but I couldn't figure out why. All sources I've read that list the 10 sentence patterns of English represent this two-object pattern as "Pattern #8: NP1 + V-tr + NP2 + NP3" without saying anything about the implied context of someone deriving benefit.

Thanks to you and El Forastero for the responses. This clears up part of my question from another thread about whether other languages differ in the number of basic sentence patterns. Clearly Spanish does not contain Pattern #8 that English uses. After numerous such translations on Yandex I suspected it did not, because the three examples I gave were the only translations where Yandex did not insert prepositions. When a preposition is inserted in order to convey the same meaning then the basic sentence pattern no longer holds. For those who are interested, here are the other Pattern #8 sentences that Yandex translated that appeared to me to be accurate because they relied on prepositions:

[English] Smithers gave the employees a raise.
[Spanish] Smithers dio a los empleados un aumento.

[English] He bought the man a drink.
[Spanish] Le compró al hombre una bebida.

[English] They named their dog Oscar.
[Spanish] Llamaron a su perro Oscar.

[English] The judge awarded Mary the prize.
[Spanish] El juez le otorgó a Mary el premio.

[English] They called it puppy love.
[Spanish] Lo llamaron amor cachorro.

[English] They called it a promotion.
[Spanish] Lo llamaron una promoción.

[English] He wrote his mother a letter.
[Spanish] Le escribió una carta a su madre.

[English] He slipped the man a $20 bill.
[Spanish] Le deslizó al hombre una factura de $ 20.

[English] The artist painted the collector a masterpiece.
[Spanish] El artista pintó al coleccionista una obra maestra.

[English] The manager handed his employee a broom.
[Spanish] El gerente le entregó a su empleado una escoba.

[English] The stranger sold the tourist a phony treasure map.
[Spanish] El extraño vendió al turista un mapa del tesoro falso.

[English] The real estate agent found the family a new house.
[Spanish] El agente de bienes raíces encontró a la familia una casa nueva.

[English] The soldier threw his friend a rifle.
[Spanish] El soldado arrojó un rifle a su amigo.

[English] Mister Gauguin carved the tourist a tiki.
[Spanish] El señor Gauguin talló al turista un tiki.

[English] The tourist tossed the child a coin.
[Spanish] El turista arrojó al niño una moneda.

[English] They called the transfer a promotion.
[Spanish] Llamaron a la transferencia una promoción.

[English] The sailors brought the port a new ship.
[Spanish] Los marineros trajeron al puerto un nuevo barco.

[English] The doctor scribbled the patient a prescription.
[Spanish] El médico garabateó al paciente una receta.
0 x

Online
Dragon27
Green Belt
Posts: 255
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:40 am
Languages: Russian (N)
English - best foreign language
Polish, Spanish - intermediate
Tatar, German, French - studying
x 512

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby Dragon27 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:11 am

AcademiaNut wrote:here are the other Pattern #8 sentences

As I understand your notation (and the meaning of the sentences), these ones
AcademiaNut wrote:[English] They named their dog Oscar.
[English] They called it puppy love.
[English] They called it a promotion.
[English] They called the transfer a promotion.

are not Pattern #8.

Spanish has the peculiarity of actively using the preposition "a" to connect indirect or even direct objects to the main verb (whereas English can attach indirect objects without any prepositions by rearranging the words in a specific way: The boy threw a bone to the dog -> The boy threw the dog a bone).

Anyways, using these 10 sentence patterns specifically designed for one language (English), to categorize sentence patterns in another language is not a good idea, in my opinion. Spanish has its own very specific way of constructing sentences and moving words around. You should properly study the language itself, its grammar and syntax, on its own terms, before trying to develop some kind of generalized system.
0 x

Cainntear
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1843
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 4615
Contact:

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby Cainntear » Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:17 pm

Dragon27 wrote:
AcademiaNut wrote:here are the other Pattern #8 sentences

As I understand your notation (and the meaning of the sentences), these ones
AcademiaNut wrote:[English] They named their dog Oscar.
[English] They called it puppy love.
[English] They called it a promotion.
[English] They called the transfer a promotion.

are not Pattern #8.

Agree/disagree.

Disagree: because there's nothing to stop you defining an entirely superficial pattern that isn't particularly useful -- the "simplification" of English to 10 patterns (except all the ones that aren't covered) is perfectly legitimate, but not useful.

Agree: because the underlying grammar is fundamentally different.
So "I gave the dog a bone" is interchangable with "I gave a bone to the dog" and "I bought the dog a bone" is interchangeable with "I bought a bone for the dog"

Whereas there's no X such that "They called puppy love X it." expresses the same thing as "They called it puppy love."

Anyways, using these 10 sentence patterns specifically designed for one language (English), to categorize sentence patterns in another language is not a good idea, in my opinion.

You don't need to say "in my opinion", because what you've said is objectively true and has been proven time and again.
0 x

Online
Dragon27
Green Belt
Posts: 255
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:40 am
Languages: Russian (N)
English - best foreign language
Polish, Spanish - intermediate
Tatar, German, French - studying
x 512

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby Dragon27 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:03 pm

Cainntear wrote:Agree: because the underlying grammar is fundamentally different.

Yeah, and the set of sentence patterns is taking that into account (the underlying grammar of the English language). I came to the conclusion (that these are different patterns) going by the links in the original thread. These are the patterns that were mixed up in the abovementioned post by AcademiaNut
8. NP1 + V-tr + NP2 + NP3
10. NP1 + V-tr + NP2 + NP2

The difference is that #8 has NP2 and NP3 (as they play a different role- direct vs indirect object), while #10 has NP2 and NP2 (to underline the fact that they play a similar role - both are somewhat of an object; this notational device is somewhat confusing to be honest). The link from the original thread gives the examples (along with the explanation):
8. Smithers gave the employees a raise.
10. Most people consider Jacobsen a loyal friend.

Another link from that thread paints a similar picture. The corresponding patterns are:
Subj+VT+IO+DO
Subj+VT+DO+noun

And the examples that seem to work for these patterns are (respectively):
The judge awarded Mary the prize.
They named their dog Oscar.

At least, that's how I've come to understand the originally proposed system.
It seems a bit alarming to me that OP conflated these two patterns.
0 x

User avatar
AcademiaNut
White Belt
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:54 pm
Location: U.S.A.
Languages: English (N).
Spanish (beginner), French (beginner).
Medium interest: Latin, Dutch, German.
Mild interest: Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek, Hawaiian.
x 25

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby AcademiaNut » Thu Jan 14, 2021 2:41 am

Dragon27 wrote:As I understand your notation (and the meaning of the sentences), these ones are not Pattern #8.


You're right: I made some mistakes within that longer list. (I suppose I shouldn't post such things unless I've had time to double check them.) I believe "They named their dog Oscar" is Pattern #10: NP1 + V-tr + NP2 + NP2. I got that example from the following site...
https://www.kent.edu/writingcommons/usi ... e-patterns
...and since they didn't number their examples, and since they didn't correlate their unnumbered examples with their numbered patterns, I must have gotten thrown off.

It's amusing how so few people responded to my thread about the 10 sentence patterns in English, but when I provided specific examples in this thread, then many people came forth to tell me the knowledge I had requested in the earlier thread.
0 x

Cainntear
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1843
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 4615
Contact:

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby Cainntear » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:01 pm

AcademiaNut wrote:It's amusing how so few people responded to my thread about the 10 sentence patterns in English, but when I provided specific examples in this thread, then many people came forth to tell me the knowledge I had requested in the earlier thread.

Well it's a matter of understanding the question, and the examples given here helped explain the idea and your purpose with it.
2 x

User avatar
AcademiaNut
White Belt
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:54 pm
Location: U.S.A.
Languages: English (N).
Spanish (beginner), French (beginner).
Medium interest: Latin, Dutch, German.
Mild interest: Japanese, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek, Hawaiian.
x 25

Re: Are these Spanish translations by computer accurate?

Postby AcademiaNut » Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:14 am

Dragon27 wrote:Anyways, using these 10 sentence patterns specifically designed for one language (English), to categorize sentence patterns in another language is not a good idea, in my opinion. Spanish has its own very specific way of constructing sentences and moving words around. You should properly study the language itself, its grammar and syntax, on its own terms, before trying to develop some kind of generalized system.


But where is a complete list of Spanish sentence patterns? I couldn't find such a list online.

Also: Why does English seem to be the only language ever listed with a complete list of sentence patterns? And why isn't that list for English better known? Why isn't that list taught in English grammar classes long before students reach college, or before they learn a foreign language? Since English speakers learning Spanish will naturally try to translate sentences they already speak into Spanish, why do Spanish teachers not realize this and explicitly explain how each English grammar pattern would be translated? All this is a mystery to me. Something seems to be seriously lacking in foreign language learning in the U.S.A., and maybe everywhere else, too. If Spanish has so few grammar patterns, then why wouldn't those be even easier to learn, and therefore why wouldn't a list of them appear in every Spanish grammar book, or at least somewhere online?

I remember in high school, as my Spanish vocabulary became extensive enough for me to believe I might be able to translate entire English sentences into Spanish, I often realized I was absolutely stumped as to how to grammatically say the same sentences in Spanish. I remember that relative clauses were one problem area, but I believe basic English sentence structure (such as Pattern #8) was another problem. I didn't even know enough about English grammar, especially to recognize that what I was saying was a Pattern #8 pattern, for example, to realize why I was having a problem. I couldn't even ask my teacher about it because I didn't even know how to describe the pattern of what I was trying to say, unless I remembered the sentence exactly and then asked about specifically that one sentence, then even if I had, the answer wouldn't have told me how to generalize the translation of that pattern if I ever came across it again. It seems to me all this could have been avoided if the teacher had merely told us: This English sentence pattern is #..., it doesn't exist in Spanish, so to say this in Spanish you need to... And then do that for each of the possible patterns.

It seems to me that would be a much faster way to learn, as well: The student could see at a glance all the grammar patterns they would ever need to learn, in a short list, then master those instead of being presented with a seemingly endless supply of new sentences of unknown patterns that the teacher wants the student to diagram, without the student having any idea of what previously unseen patterns might be encountered in the future or what else might be out there, if anything. With knowledge of all the patterns that can exist, language learning then reduces to almost a mechanical process of filling in the slots: 4 slots for the overall topics (script, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary), 10 subslots for the grammar patterns + a few rules for any relative clauses hanging off of them, maybe 5 subslots for phonemes that don't exist in English that need to be mastered, a list of the 3 verb types and how to conjugate them (-ar, -er, -ir), and a few more miscellaneous rules, like for agreement of gender and plural. The student can then see at a glance the entire set of knowledge that needs to be tackled, and how it is organized, and plan accordingly. Sadly, I suspect not even the teachers themselves see the big picture, which is why they do not teach it.
0 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests