DeepL Translator has added Japanese (and Chinese), and the quality is actually pretty good


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    DeepL Translator apparently added support for the Japanese language last month. So I've been testing it out for a bit today, and I have to say, I'm amazed at how good the quality is, and more importantly, how comprehensible its translations are compared to anything I've seen out of machine translation yet. Of course, it's far from perfect, but I feel like it's finally reached the point where it isn't objectionable anymore.

    In fact, I could easily see this killing the MTL fan translation "industry" in one swift stroke, as from what I can tell, very little editing is needed, and the editing you have to do can easily be done by clicking the suspect word(s) in the translation, and selecting one of DeepL's suggestions.

    Of course, further testing is needed, but at this point, I can see myself subscribing to their service to remove the length limits on the web translator. The few web novel chapters I've tried so far are actually readable.


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    I really love DeepL using it for over a year or two. We even have the premium edition at work. I use it mostly for medical terms and phrases I don't know.

    This could get really awesome for light novels. I always wanted to read some in japanese but sadly my kanji knowledge is reather small ...

    I wish they would print more furigana in light novels. If amazon would build in a function like wordwise just for furigana (and make japanese ebooks available world wide) that would help so much.


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    There's been a bunch of discussion about it on Discord, where people ran various webnovels through it. The general consensus seems to be that, yes, it's better than Google Translate, but it's still poor quality compared to a human translator, so it's not going to change anything apart from maybe resulting in MTL fan translations getting a little bit better.


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    @WaterDweller Do you have any specific example (source text) you see significantly better? I tried some and it didn't look any better than google.


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    @hiroto A couple of examples:

    From Death Mage, an excerpt I once tried to make my way through using a dictionary while I was still trying to learn Japanese:
    悪神の五つの顎から放たれた光弾が、女ドワーフの小柄な体に向けて放たれた。直撃すれば、現代の城塞程度なら瓦礫も残さず吹き飛ぶような威力の攻撃が五つ、避けようがない速さで迫る。

    Google Translate:
    Light bullets from the evil god's five jaws were shot at the dwarf's petite body. If you hit it directly, you will get five attacks with the power to blow away without leaving any debris at the level of a modern-day fortress.

    DeepL Translator:
    Light bullets released from the evil god's five jaws were aimed at the female dwarf's petite body. If a direct hit is made, five attacks with a power that would blow away all the debris of a modern-day citadel would be unavoidable and fast.

    In the case of the Google translation, it's hard to even know what's supposed to be going on, and it certainly doesn't follow accepted English syntax, whereas the DeepL translation at least gives some idea of what's happening.

    Google translate from a random Amazon review of the first volume of In Another World with my Smartphone:
    A story in which stories that are convenient for the main character, such as the Warashibe-chou, are continuous is one of the oldest stories. Only those who like this story should read this work. Some people criticize it, but I think it's a light novel work that is a modern rewriting of a light old tale about the Warashibechocho. Of course, there are likes and dislikes.
    However, it is unknown why this work is sold at a high price of over 1000 yen. I think about 600 yen is a normal price for Ranobe, so I will definitely buy it only when I am temporarily discounted at amazon.

    DeepL translation of the same:
    The storyline that follows a series of stories that are convenient for the main character is one of the oldest stories in the world. Only those who like stories like this should read this one. There are many people who criticize it, but I think it's a light novel that rewrites a light old story of a straw-bellied elder into a modern style. It's natural to have likes and dislikes.
     It is unclear why this work is being sold at a high price of over 1000 yen. I think 600 yen or so is a normal price for a light novel, so I'll definitely only buy it when it's occasionally discounted on amazon.

    In this case, the Google translation uses awkward sentence structures, strange collocations ("light novel work"), translates statements in ways that make no sense in the context ("Only those who like this story should read this work." Well, I can't know if I like the story if I haven't read the work yet, so that would be kind of a catch-22.), a mention of a "Warashibechocho" which refers to who knows what, "Ranobe", and lastly, "when I am temporarily discounted at Amazon". The DeepL translation, on the other hand, reads like perfectly acceptable English, the "straw-bellied elder" aside.

    And these aren't cherry picked examples. These were literally the first two snippets I tested in order to find some examples. ;P

    Edited to add: I looked up the Warashibe Chouja on Japanese wikipedia and ran the summary through Google Translate and DeepL:
    わらしべ長者(わらしべちょうじゃ、藁稭長者)は、日本のおとぎ話のひとつ。『今昔物語集』および『宇治拾遺物語』に原話が見られる。舞台は奈良県桜井市初瀬の長谷寺と伝わる。世界中でも似たような物語が存在しており、ブータンや朝鮮、イギリスなどにも見られる。

    Google Translate:
    Warashibe Choja (Warashibe Choja, Straw Crawler) is one of Japan's fairy tales. The original story can be found in the "Konjaku Monogatari Shu" and "Uji Chosen Monogatari." The stage is handed down to Hasedera Temple in Hatsuse, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Similar stories exist around the world and can be found in Bhutan, Korea, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

    DeepL Translator:
    Warashibe Chouja (straw稭Chouja) is one of the Japanese fairy tales. The original story can be found in "Konjaku Monogatari Shu" and "Uji Hijiki Monogatari". The setting is said to be Hase Temple in Hatsuse, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Similar stories exist all over the world and can be found in Bhutan, Korea and England.

    Neither of them is able to make sense of 藁稭長者, and neither gets the right readings for "Uji Shuui Monogatari". A point for google for getting "Hasedera" right. But the Google translation loses a major point when it produces something completely incomprehensible: "The stage is handed down to ..."


  • Member

    From your description, I get the impression DeepL will generate "better English" which is easier to read. But that doesn't necessarily means that it is more accurate. From your example.

    @WaterDweller said in DeepL Translator has added Japanese (and Chinese), and the quality is actually pretty good:

    悪神の五つの顎から放たれた光弾が、女ドワーフの小柄な体に向けて放たれた。直撃すれば、現代の城塞程度なら瓦礫も残さず吹き飛ぶような威力の攻撃が五つ、避けようがない速さで迫る。

    Google Translate:
    Light bullets from the evil god's five jaws were shot at the dwarf's petite body. If you hit it directly, you will get five attacks with the power to blow away without leaving any debris at the level of a modern-day fortress.

    DeepL Translator:
    Light bullets released from the evil god's five jaws were aimed at the female dwarf's petite body. If a direct hit is made, five attacks with a power that would blow away all the debris of a modern-day citadel would be unavoidable and fast.

    I noticed that the highlighted section is very accurately translated in Google Translate, but inaccurately in DeepL. It seems DeepL do quite a bit more aggressive post processing to tailor the resulting English to be more natural, but in this particular example, it seems to apply some conversion which changed the semantics of the original intent.

    But DeepL got the essence of 2nd sentence better, which is "The attacks was fast and unavoidable", which was completely dropped by Google. I have observed that before that with a little complexity of sentence structure, Google tends to simply silently drops the part of the sentence too complicated. So overall, I agree that DeepL did better job here.

    BTW, there is third alternative https://miraitranslate.com/trial/.

    The bullets from the five jaws of the evil god were fired at the small body of the female dwarf. If hit directly, five powerful attacks, which would blow away a modern fortress without leaving any debris, will come at a speed that cannot be avoided.

    This is quite a bit more accurate than Google or DeepL.


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    @hiroto More tools to use! The more the merrier. :D Miraitranslate looks great, and if it can produce results like that consistenly, I'm starting to wonder why I was so hyped about DeepL in the first place. ;D

    Miraitranslate version of that earlier Amazon review:
    Stories like Warashibe Choja, in which stories that are convenient for the main character go on and on, are a royal road of old stories. Only those who like such stories should read this work. There are many people who criticize it, but I think it is a light novel that rewrites a light old story like a straw man millionaire in a modern way. Of course there are likes and dislikes.
    It is not clear why has been sold for more than 1000 yen. I think 600 yen is the normal price as a lanobe, so I will definitely buy it only when it is temporarily discounted on Amazon.

    On the whole, I think this translation is quite a bit clearer, even if it has its glitches ("lanobe").

    Miraitranslate of the wikipedia excerpt on Warashibe Chouja:
    Warashibe Choja (Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee) is a Japanese fairy tale. The original stories can be seen in 'Konjaku Monogatarishu' and 'Uji Shui Monogatari'. It is said that the stage is set in Hase-dera Temple in Hatsuse, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. Similar stories exist around the world, including Bhutan, Korea, and England.

    Well, in a sense it's more accurate, but it seems to have glitched out a bit at the same time. ;D


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    @WaterDweller

    There are quite a few blog post reviewing DeepL's Japanese capabilities and they seems to be all positive. I even saw an example of a blogger translated her blog post through Japanse->English->Japanese and she said that resulting Japanese is better than the original.


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    @hiroto That sounds incredible :O


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    Gotta say, DeepL has brought my fangirlism to new depths (pun intended).

    After seeing significantly good results with long texts, I followed my whim and actually bought the last 2 volumes of Okobore Hime (as it's not licensed in English, Eng fan TL is still a long way to go and Chinese fan TL is only up to vol 15) in Japanese, then read it with DeepL's help.

    Some details are difficult to follow, like battle tactics or exact nuance of words in romantic scene, but enough to understand what's going on. Some jokes even come across.

    For the best possible results though, some tweaking is needed. Not only removing the DRM but also editing the epub stylesheet (so that furigana is not cluttering the translation) and replacing Japanese punctuation with standard ones.


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    Honestly, I am using both DeepL and GTranslate to my writing, and DeepL became the end up of the writing itself (write In Spanish in Word (PC) and Google Docs (phone), convert to the GDocs format to translate or directly copy to translate into both DeepL and GTranslate and choose the best one. Seeing that they have a good translation of Japanese is good



  • I'm playing around with writing a new web novel using this technology. Trying to find the best way to use the tool is pretty interesting. Translating a post to Japanese is taking about 3 hours right now... but that is mostly me searching for optimal translation rather than dumping it in and just posting whatever comes out.


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