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Machine translation in 1968

The BBC recently published this excerpt from a 1968 edition of Tomorrow’s World featuring a computer system at Kyoto University that was not only able to translate simple sentences from Japanese to English, but could also read out the resulting Japanese text. #OnThisDay 1968: Tomorrow's World was in Japan, to test Kyoto University's extraordinary English to Japanese translator. What sorcery is this? pic.twitter.com/WTRHmgBmL2 — BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) August 14, 2018 It looks like the translation it performed was as follows: Input: MY NAME IS JOHN PARRY, AND I WORK IN LONDON ENGLAND. I HAVE COME TO KYOTO UNIVERSITY TO LOOK AT THE DIGITAL COMPUTER. Output (Romaji): WATASINO NAMAEWA JOHN PARRY DE ARU, SOSITE WATASHIWA LONDON ENGLAND NONAKANI HATARAKU. WATASHIWA DEJITARU KONPYUUTAAWO MIRUTAMENI KYOTO DAIGAKUE KIMASITA. Output (Kana): ワタシノナマエハ JOHN PARRY デアル、ソシテワタシワ LONDON ENGLAND ノナカニハタラク。ワタシハデジタル コンピューターヲミルタメニ KYOTO ダイガクヘキマシタ。 Apart from the use of dictionary-form verbs instead of the more polite “desu/masu” forms that one would expect from a human translator, the results aren’t bad at all. Very impressive for a computer that probably had less processing capability than a modern washing [More…]

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Ōyama Sutematsu

Someone recently uploaded the story of a Japanese education pioneer called Ōyama Sutematsu (大山 捨松). It’s quite an interesting read: The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice.

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Header image: The sacred bridge (神橋) across the Daiya river at Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社) in Nikkō. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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