Not long ago “??????????????” would have yielded “??rb?níy? ránér rénài lián?u p??r chá.” But now Google produces the correct “?’?rb?níy? rán’ér rén’ài lián’?u p?’?r chá.” (Well, one could debate whether that last one should be p?’?r chá, p?’?rchá, P?’?r chá, P?’?r Chá, or P?’?rchá. But the apostrophe is undoubtedly correct regardless.)
Also, the -men suffix is now solid with words (e.g., ??? –> péngyoumen and ??? –> háizimen). This is a small thing but nonetheless welcome.
The most significant remaining fundamental problem is the capitalization and parsing of proper nouns.
And numbers are still wrong, with everything being written separately. For example, “???????????????” should be rendered as “q?qi?n ji?b?i sìshís?n wàn w?qi?n liùb?i w?shíb?.” But Google is still giving this as “q? qi?n ji? b?i sì shí s?n wàn w? qi?n liù b?i w? shí b?.”
On the other hand, Google is starting to deal with “le”, with it being appended to verbs. This is a relatively tricky thing to get right, so I’m not surprised Google doesn’t have the details down yet.
So there’s still a lot of work to be done. But at least progress is being made in areas of fundamental importance. I’m heartened by the progress.
- Google Translate’s Pinyin converter revisited, Pinyin News, June 2, 2011
- Google Translate’s new Pinyin function sucks, Pinyin News, November 18, 2009