Link: The Evolution of Google Translate

Machine translation is a heavily debated topic in our profession, and not surprisingly, Google is leading the mainstream efforts. While we have personally only scratched the surface of the debate, we applaud Google's goal of making all online information available to all people via their translations. We are quite confident that professional translators will never go out of style -- because, really, who wants a computer that doesn't understand syntax and tone to translate their confidential multi-million dollar sales contract between two global companies? Our clients don't (and won't, we hope). We look forward to playing around with Google's capabilities and were happy to hear that German researcher Franz Och, who is very well-known in the field of machine translation, is leading Google's efforts.

This week's New York Times article about Google Translate does a good job at analayzing the issues. However, we were surprised that the NYT did not get a quote from a representative of the translation industry, such as the American Translators Association.


3 comments:

rockfestl on March 13, 2010 at 6:15 AM said...

Hopefully Googles efforts dosen't reduce translators in the future to proof-readers of pretranslated texts.

Kirti Vashee on March 13, 2010 at 11:13 AM said...

I think there are good reasons for the machine translation technology to evolve. This is discussed here: http://kv-emptypages.blogspot.com/2010/01/why-machine-translation-matters.html

I think it is very likely that these efforts will also affect the professional translation industry. However, this need not be all bad as MT will always need human steering to produce high quality

Brian Barker on March 17, 2010 at 7:24 AM said...

Can I add that Google's "Babel Fish" translator will in never solve the language problem. Not only does it discriminate against anyone who cannot afford a mobile phone, but against minority language groups as well.

There are 6,800 languages worldwide, not fifty-two !

Moreover, if I met a native in Borneo, and he said to me in Hakka "I've lost my mobile phone" how would I understand him :) And how many starving Africans can afford a mobile phone !

As English loses its economic power, the answer is not for us to move to Mandarin Chinese, but to Esperanto which puts all speakers on an equal footing.

Have a look at http://www.lernu.net or http://www.esperanto.net

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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