Facebook’s Alan Packer announced at MIT’s EmTech Digital that it replaced Bing Translation, in favor of its own internally-developed translation tool. According to the article in TechCrunch, in time Facebook will reverse the current paradigm: you will see the translation by default, and only “show original” if you really want to.

The continuing caution to this is that the results are still raw Machine Translation, so do not expect full-blown miracles. For instance, in a snippet of a Kyoto Facebook post (京都やまちや / @Yamachiya), an original text reads:


Taking this to Bing Translate renders it as:

I “fibrin”, from the deli Pan bread artisans from the culinary world’s sweets series so rich in variety and in already from locals to tourists surge fan shop (*^_^*)

The new Facebook translation renders this as:

” five run, is the world of food from the chef of our bread, chip butty from the movie: sweets to series very variety already, and the local people to tourists from fans in the increase of the store (* 😊 *)

It is arguable if one is better than the other, and it is clear neither one is truly effective as a proper English translation (“surge fan shop” vs. “chip butty from the movie”). While such Machine Translations are nominal to get across the bare-bones gist of meanings, it is clear there is still room for human-translated-and-edited work, especially when quality of meaning, not speed of propagation, matters most.


We gave our internal Japanese staffer a bit of time to come up with a better translation. After doing a search, it turns out the name of the shop is actually “Fiveran.” (example, see this blog). She offered the following rendering of the text:

“Fiveran” offers a wide variety of bread, from cooked buns to sweet pastries created by artisans who have experience in the restaurant industry, and has been attracting local fans as well as tourists as a new bakery in the area.

Now that’s a version that the client would probably prefer to read!

As an aside, for Yanks confused as to what a “chip butty” might be, here’s the Wikipedia page on the topic. Why one would be “from the movie” is still anyone’s guess.

[Photo source: Facebook, 京都やまちや (@yamachiya) See post from 11 May 2016]