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Google Translation Center, a new online market for translators?
Thread poster: Waleed Mohamed

Waleed Mohamed  Identity Verified
United Arab Emirates
Local time: 00:22
English to Arabic
+ ...
Aug 4, 2008

Hi colleagues,

I have just read an interesting piece of news.

It says:

Google looks set to launch a beta test of a document translation service, a new move in the company's efforts to break down language barriers.

With the service, the company will connect people who need documents translated with humans who will be paid to do so, according to the Google Translation Center information page. The site was spotted by sharp eyes at the Google Blogoscoped blog.

Please read full article here:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html

Do you think this will be good or bad for us? Should we be happy with this?

Waiting for your comments!

Best

Waleed


[Edited at 2008-08-04 21:03]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 15:22
SITE FOUNDER
My opinion Aug 4, 2008

This is probably good, possibly bad for the industry. In either case, it is important news.

If I were still translating, I would register when it becomes possible to do so. As usual, I would know my rate and not go below it. http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc


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Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 06:52
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Just another big TM Aug 4, 2008

...is what they are essentially building.

[quote]
"Google Translation Center is the fast and easy way to get translations for your content. Simply upload your document, choose your translation language, and choose from our registry of professional and volunteer translators. If a translator accepts, you should receive your translated content back as soon as it's ready," the site said.
[quote\]

...and what about QA?

Like with any TM, the quality of the output will depend largely on the quality of what goes in. Unless they build a serious screening process into their registration, I reckon it is a fair guess that this latter quality will be patchy at best.




[Edited at 2008-08-04 23:58]


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Setti Mulari  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 09:22
Member (2005)
Finnish to English
Oh goodie... Aug 4, 2008

I'm not going to love it or hate it until I've seen it but I will certainly keep my eyes open and follow it closely. With the Google weight behind it, who knows what will happen, but it can't be ignored.

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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More crowdsourcing... Aug 5, 2008

...in my opinion. Many translators will register just to be there, and of course companies using this service will choose the cheapest translators. I think that most people using this service will just be companies who want to know the meaning of some document or who want to translate pieces of text for their websites.

I don't think a part of the income of professional translators will come this way.


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thekar  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:22
Greek to English
+ ...
A deeper insight Aug 5, 2008

http://gigaom.com/2008/08/04/google-translation-center-the-worlds-largest-translation-memory/

further elaboration on big G's aproach.

FYI

This has been on their radar screen since the inception of the machine.

My 50 cents: i quote one part of article that summarizes the long term implication

If Google releases an API for the translation management system, it could establish a de facto standard for integrated machine translation and translation memory, creating a language platform around which projects like Der Mundo can build specialized applications and collect more training data.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
Final goal Aug 5, 2008

The final aim of these lofty initiatives is to cut translation costs and to reduce the role of the translator as a person who reviews texts churned out by machine translation at a low rate. The web translates itself means a drop in demand for localization.


[Edited at 2008-08-05 08:20]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
What the future holds Aug 5, 2008

"Google Translation Center is the fast and easy way to get translations for your content. Simply upload your document, choose your translation language, and choose from our registry of professional and volunteer translators. If a translator accepts, you should receive your translated content back as soon as it's ready"


Although I've weighed in several times in the last few months about "big TMs", bad matches, and undervalued work, I'm actually not against the technology behind TMs and their use.

The key point for me is: Who has the final say over accepting/using matches and the pay rate for my work.

This project seems to be about two different things:
1) Providing an unpaid middleman between those seeking translations and those supplying them
2) Compiling data to eventually "improve" automated translations

As far as point 1 is concerned, I have no qualms about this. Apparently Google isn't going to be an agency, it won't demand such-and-such discounts just because there is a "big TM". It will simply provide a brokering service - for free - and accompanying technology.

It is still up to me as the service provider to "know my rate", as Henry said, and stick to it in my negotiations. I am free to explain to the prospective customer what my rates are based on, why I do or do not feel a discount is appropriate, etc. And it's up to the customer to seek cheaper translations if that's what they so choose. Free market.

As far as point 2 is concerned, I think we are heading toward automated translations regardless - someday. I think we've all known this was the end goal - at least since the advent of Star Trek! But when will it happen? Ahhh, that's what no one knows. I've been mildly impressed with Google so far, and I'm willing to give them a chance to impress me further.

For me - as always - the salient issue is getting paid fairly for the work I put in. And most of that is my responsibility - I'm the one who has to make sure I don't accept deep discounts or end up proofreading poor (machine) translations.

If and when I'm totally unable to do that because the market is saturated with cheap translations (be they good or bad) or translating technology that relegates me to functioning as a text editor, then I may have to make career-altering decisions. Until that point, I don't see this as unworkable.

And as for the customers that seek out the cheapest work: Caveat Emptor


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
Blinded by our ego Aug 6, 2008

Yes, you can stick to your rates pointing out your high quality. Despite the lofty words, the final goal of google is to improve its machine translation to your high level by constantly adding translations made by human translators.
If a company can save on your work and get the same quality, what will it choose?
I say "what", indicating machine translation. What if companies who consider translation as a necessary nuissance to go global, put their translations in google mt and let bilinguals (usually management assistants are well versed in languages) plus specialists working at their company translate the text as a team. This is cheaper than paying a freelancer at the middle/higher end of the scale. Are freelancers blinded by their ego that they do like the man from la Mancha (google translate failed to translate the famous first line).


[Edited at 2008-08-06 08:09]


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Blind to the future? Aug 6, 2008

Williamson wrote:

If a company can save on your work and get the same quality, what will it choose? ... What if companies who consider translation as a necessary nuissance to go global, put their translations in google mt and let bilinguals (usually management assistants are well versed in languages) plus specialists working at their company translate the text as a team.


And what if they do choose that route if and when it is available? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. In my opinion, we're headed there anyway. (I may not celebrate it, but I can at least acknowledge it.)

Is this simply a reflection on the (sad) reality of the evolution of the profession?

[Edited at 2008-08-06 09:46]


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 22:22
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Here's the possible result Aug 6, 2008

http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2008/07/then-well-grab.html

Williamson wrote: If a company can save on your work and get the same quality, what will it choose? ...
How?
What if companies who consider translation as a necessary nuissance to go global, put their translations in google mt and let bilinguals (usually management assistants are well versed in languages) plus specialists working at their company translate the text as a team.

Are there many bilinguals plus specialists eager to spend their time doing it? Presumably, pro bono?

There's no way to stop the automation process (progress?) in the translation industry; but in the next few years, it's likely to affect a small section only. I won't be surprised if there are no manuals to, say, electric kettles, 10 or even 5 years from now for us to translate: this is one area where everything is well structured, the vocabulary is limited to a few dozen words, there's little human element in the entire text (the most human part being "Thank you for purchasing our product!") That doesn't scare me a single bit; I get little fun translating these manuals anyway

At the same time, the translation industry of the forthcoming years is what we make it (or, rather, what we are making it!) - with our professional attitude, quality, understanding of our (added) value and importance, or, the other way round, with our carelessness, disrespect to what we do, lack of standards and the feeling of being a necessary nuissance for the "real" world.

If money makes the world go round, translation lubricates the gears.

Cheers.
Oleg


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Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 06:52
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
one for the collection Aug 6, 2008

Thanks for the link, Oleg!

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
Google vs.Proz.com Aug 6, 2008

Janet Rubin wrote:

Williamson wrote:

If a company can save on your work and get the same quality, what will it choose? ... What if companies who consider translation as a necessary nuissance to go global, put their translations in google mt and let bilinguals (usually management assistants are well versed in languages) plus specialists working at their company translate the text as a team.


And what if they do choose that route if and when it is available? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. In my opinion, we're headed there anyway. (I may not celebrate it, but I can at least acknowledge it.)

Is this simply a reflection on the (sad) reality of the evolution of the profession?

[Edited at 2008-08-06 09:46]


The future translator : Don Quichote, the Man from la Mancha fought against windmills. However, I am not don Quichote.
I am a realist.

Translators are a cost-factor for companies to do business worldwide, but unlike express and freight companies which are seafaring and flying warehouses, who deliver JIT, in the long term we can be eliminated and our role will be reduced to reviewing translations.

Did you ever try Promt Machine translation? You simply scan the texts, the program translates it and reads it aloud. You correct/rewrite mistakes. Prompt contains a kind of CAT.

In some combinations (German to English) it produces understandable results which just need to be adapted by humans. If these humans are already on the payroll (say a management assistant-some “translators” present here are ex-management assistants -read: secretaries at managerial level-, a trainer, a corporate copywriter, an engineer, M.D., lawyer,...) they can easily be given the assignment , which would otherwise be outsourced. It is already happening now.

Oh, yes the classical example of how bad a translation by Google Translate is will pop up, but underneath there is a line that says "suggest a better translation". If you do, this better translation will be stored forever and the translation which was ridiculous at first will not be so ridiculous any longer.
About 300 million users use Google every month. If a 1/100th of them possess a certain linguistic level and/or have a level of expertise and they all add to this database, the chances of "ridiculous" translations will diminish. Like proz.com google intends to be the intermediary, but what is the weight of a company like Google with regard to the number of page views. If it want google could buy proz.com and purge kudoz.

The bottom line is: If a translation can be made by a machine and costs can be cut, will companies (who supplies agencies with assignments) still be prepared to pay a decent rate if they can get their translation cheaper by having it (re)made by people who are on their payroll and who they don't have to pay extra or only a small bonus.



[Edited at 2008-08-06 15:49]

[Edited at 2008-08-06 15:52]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:22
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
On Google Translation Aug 6, 2008

Google (and MT in general) will continue to improve and many clients will be satisfied with the results. However:

1) Can eth comptuer recgonzie thgins that are mispselled? The funds were placed in an ascrow account.

2) Incorrect word usage? She refused to except reality.

3) Will the incorrect use of punctuation, confuse the system; "Diese sog. Losung."

4) Neologisms? The holographic system's dream-centered interface...

5) Creative word usage? My, that does look "interesting".

6) Can a computer correctly translate the nuance of a sentence based on its context?

Example: The sentence "I never said she stole my money" could have several meanings depending on the surrounding text (or emphasis when spoken):

* "I never said she stole my money" - Someone else said it, but I didn't.
* "I NEVER said she stole my money" - I simply didn't ever say it.
* "I never SAID she stole my money" - I might have implied it in some way, but I never explicitly said it.
* "I never said SHE stole my money" - I said someone took it, I didn't say it was her.
* "I never said she STOLE my money" - I just said she probably borrowed it.
* "I never said she stole MY money" - I said she stole someone else's money.
* "I never said she stole my MONEY" - I said she stole something, but not my money.

6) Word play? Puns?

Lit-elle messe, moffette,
Satan ne te fête,
Et digne somme coeurs et nouez.
À longue qu’aime est-ce pailles d’Eure.
Et ne Satan bise ailleurs
Et ne fredonne messe. Moffette, ah, ouais!

7) Many times professional translators cannot agree on the proper translation of a word or phrase (just see KudoZ). How will a computer choose which translation to use?

Let us also not forget that just because companies choose to place their bilingual documents/texts on the internet that does not mean that they grant permission for these same documents to be used in a public TM database. Piecing together a "translation" from multiple sources would result in extreme inconsistency both in terms of terminology as well as grammar.

Computer translation will never be perfect because the writing created by human beings is imperfect.

That having been said, there is and will be a market for machine-produced translations simply because it is faster and cheaper. Therefore, the real question is not whether the computer can/will translate better than a human, but whether the kind of translation that will be computer generated in the future will be acceptable (or will be perceived as being acceptable) or "good enough" for the client's purposes. This will undoubtedly be true in many cases.

A new class of translators may emerge who specialize in "fixing" or "editing" MT-generated translations. MT will be increasingly used to allow people to communicate with one another quickly and inexpensively via a variety of electronic products (on-line/console video games, text messaging, forums).

However, translators specializing in markets not suitable for MT will benefit since the increased use and availability of MT (and the resulting increased access to foreign language documents and contacts between speakers of two different languages) will bring more information to the attention of potential clients who may then want or need a human-generated translation.


[Edited at 2008-08-06 16:43]

[Edited at 2008-08-06 21:17]


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Guillaume de Brébisson
Local time: 21:22
English to French
+ ...
A lot of alternatives to google Translation Center Aug 7, 2008

The anyword translation company published on its blog a (short) list of existing translators directories and marketplaces, to underline that there are better choices than using the future Google Translation Center. Don't hesitate to send answers to add the translator's directories that I don't know yet.

Agence de traduction Anyword
Guillaume de Brébisson

[Modifié le 2008-08-07 16:52]


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