Articles

>A Primer on Machine Translation

In Theology, welocalize, work on November 4, 2010 by mstevensrev

>As many of you know my full time vocational work revolves around getting English content translated into other languages, most of my clients are in technology. Like everything these days everyone wants to know hoe to do it faster, and often times cheaper. That is where Machine Translation comes into the picture. When I started in the industry just a few years ago, my common line was that machine translation would not be a viable option for ten years, well that was sn overestimation and now I have many clients with it in full production.

Here are the most basics around machine translation, so if you are at a cocktail party and it comes up you can impress your friends (thank me later):

For Consumer products there are great free options out there from Google, Babelfish, and Microsoft. These are good for getting the gist of a translation, though if relied upon too much can lead to awkward situations. One friend who just bought a company in Korea typed into the translator, “We are excited to do business with you.” the translation engine spit out, “We are horny to do business with you.”. In our industry everyone has about four or five of those stories.

There are excellent commercial machine translation engines out there Moses (open-source), ProMT, and SysTRANS. Each of these have consumer options so if you just want to geek out go for it. There is also plenty of time to discuss the differences between rules based, statistical, and hybrid engines so we will cover that later.

At the end of the day we are still making it about the Post Editors (name for translators when they work on Machine Translation output). When you have the correct people enjoying their work on that end it will pay off on the client end. There is a long way to go on that front but as a company we are working very closely with our supply chain and clients to move this industry into the future.

What is the connection for me? It’s all about the “word”. God chose to communicate with us in written form, translation has been at the heart of that communication from the very beginning. Now I have the joy to work in an industry where that is the focus, correct and efficient translation. How does technology change us? As people, as spiritual being, in how we related to the “word”.

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