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When I translate "How to use something" in Bing Translate to Chinese, it shows "如何使用某物", but if I translate back, it will show "How to use a thing".

What's the hell?

When I'am translating other sentences, it is the same as the previous translation.

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  • @Draconis I'am saying Bing Translate not Google Translate. It is not a duplicate.
    – user298438
    May 31, 2018 at 17:06
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    The accepted answer to that question explains why not even a perfectly fluent English translator will give you back your original input. Google and Bing both use the same underlying method of translation (neural networks) but that's not really the issue here.
    – Draconis
    May 31, 2018 at 17:14
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    Google and Bing both use the same underlying method of translation???
    – user298438
    Jun 16, 2018 at 21:14

1 Answer 1

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Translating isn't a one-to-one process. For a simple example, consider the French words si and oui, both of which can correspond to English "yes" in different contexts. Once you've translated them into English "yes", you need to choose which one to use when going back into French. A human translator could use context to figure this out, but even cutting-edge machine translators generally aren't smart enough to do that.

Even if you got a human translator to translate to another language, and another to translate it back, the probabilities are close to zero for any non-trivial input that you'd get the exact same text back. Simply because there are so many different ways to express an idea in any given language. If you asked me to translate "the book was written" into Latin, I would say liber scriptus est. But if I were asked to translate that sentence back into English, I'd make it active: "someone wrote the book". Simply because the active voice is much more common in English than the passive.

In this case, it seems that Chinese (like various other languages, including Ancient Greek) doesn't distinguish between "something" and "some thing" (= "a thing"). So when translating back to English, the translator has to guess which one you originally meant.

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    This is a good answer but would be improved by the mention of the other half of the equation. Even when a human translator can accurately determine which of the many senses of a word is appropriate in the context, a machine translator still cannot. Methods have gone from grammar modeling in the early days to pure statistics to, more recently, things like neural machine translation (used by Bing as well as Google). But they are still far from able to disambiguate without a good deal of context. May 31, 2018 at 17:08
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    @LukeSawczak Good point. Added a note about that.
    – Draconis
    May 31, 2018 at 17:12
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    Already a duplicate, why you have to answer this?
    – user298438
    Jun 3, 2018 at 0:07
  • @user298438 Sorry, I answered before it was flagged as a duplicate
    – Draconis
    Jun 4, 2018 at 16:44

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