The Tool Box Newsletter by Jost Zetzsche is a must for translators who want to get the most out of applying technology to the translation process. All the latest news on all the latest tools for translators. I mention it here in particular because it frequently includes news on developments in the field of Machine Translation.
For example in the August 2012 edition, the article “MT Apologetics” suggests some talking points for translators to explain the role of machine translation to the uninitiated:
· “Machine translation is great because it fulfills an important purpose: providing a gist (or approximated) translation that most often offers a pretty good idea of the content of any given webpage, email, or tweet. This is especially helpful for language communities with less general access to data in their language if they happen to be one of the 58 languages currently supported between Google Translate and Bing Translator.”
· “Machine translation is a completely different activity than that performed by translators. Human translation, like any human activity, is not guaranteed to be successful, but with the right processes in place, the likelihood of success is extremely high. Contrast that with translation by a computer: if the MT system works well, the likelihood of success is exactly as great as the mathematical probability that the computer can apply. Think about how communication works. Is that always based on the logic of math? No, it’s based on the context of circumstance and text — something that only a translator can follow or recreate.”
I would agree that the inability to take into account the overall context of a text condemns present-day machine translation to be highly unreliable, even though at the same time it is extremely useful where accuracy and readability are not critical.
Another point I would add is that using machine translation in doing translation work for clients increases my productivity thus allowing me to offer better pricing, and at the same time serves as an aid to quality. This is a subject I dealt with in a previous post.
The newsletter of course includes numerous other more technical article dealing with the integration of machine translation in various translation environment tools.
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