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Can you please assure me of the fields\'s immortality
Thread poster: Rafale
Rafale
Uzbekistan
Local time: 10:11
Russian to English
+ ...
Jun 17, 2002

The doubt that troubles me is wheather there is any probability of the obsolescence of the translator at hands of toothing artificial intellect for machine translators. Do dispel it at once, I beg.

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jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:11
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
If you are writing this, you probably do not need to worry. Jun 17, 2002

Having worked as a translator for > 25 years and in computers and software for > 20 years, I think I can assure you that, barring a beyond-Nobel-prize-size leap in technology, good human translators do not have much to worry about from machine translations.



Why do I say this? Well, artifical intelligence has been around for at least 20 years, and they have yet to make a dent in real language translation. The myriad meanings of words in languages like English make it necessary for the translator (man OR machine) to view each word in context. This explodes the problem for a machine into something that, currently, is beyond the abilities of most hardware.



While this may change, there is another, in my opinion, more important factor that must be kept in mind: Languages are alive, mutating and changing and adding and subtracting EVERY day. Just think of whatever YOUR dominant language is. Is this the same language YOU learned as a child? By and large, yes, you say, but then do the youth of the country speak JUST like you? I doubt it. (I know MY kids do not!) This is the factor that will keep machines ALWAYS slightly behind the curve. They need much more context than most humans to determine the meaning of a word, even one a human has never heard before.



To sum it up, I feel confident that I will be able to continue translating well beyond my retirement age (in the USA) if I so desire.



Oh, there will be machine translations, but never on the level that a human can produce. If the language is static, then machines will take over, but even Latin (a \'dead\' language!) continues to add new words, and THAT will be the stumbling block for machines.


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swisstell
Italy
Local time: 07:11
German to English
+ ...
Gut gebrüllt, Löwe! (as the saying goes) Jun 17, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-06-17 17:09, jccantrell wrote:

Having worked as a translator for > 25 years and in computers and software for > 20 years, I think I can assure you that, barring a beyond-Nobel-prize-size leap in technology, good human translators do not have much to worry about from machine translations.



Why do I say this? Well, artifical intelligence has been around for at least 20 years, and they have yet to make a dent in real language translation. The myriad meanings of words in languages like English make it necessary for the translator (man OR machine) to view each word in context. This explodes the problem for a machine into something that, currently, is beyond the abilities of most hardware.



While this may change, there is another, in my opinion, more important factor that must be kept in mind: Languages are alive, mutating and changing and adding and subtracting EVERY day. Just think of whatever YOUR dominant language is. Is this the same language YOU learned as a child? By and large, yes, you say, but then do the youth of the country speak JUST like you? I doubt it. (I know MY kids do not!) This is the factor that will keep machines ALWAYS slightly behind the curve. They need much more context than most humans to determine the meaning of a word, even one a human has never heard before.



To sum it up, I feel confident that I will be able to continue translating well beyond my retirement age (in the USA) if I so desire.



Oh, there will be machine translations, but never on the level that a human can produce. If the language is static, then machines will take over, but even Latin (a \'dead\' language!) continues to add new words, and THAT will be the stumbling block for machines.



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Rafale
Uzbekistan
Local time: 10:11
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for being assuring and detailed Jun 18, 2002

Still, the deepest silt remains unraised, though what was said appears to me to be reasonable.

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David Rockell
Chinese to English
Quantity is the key Jun 18, 2002

Machines will always be stupid but accurately stupid and consistently stupid. If a company or government (and the latter is more likely) spends enough time and resources to employ those resources now available (it may have already well done so), then it is only a matter of time before an MT program can produce good drafts (and I do stress drafts). I feel from the way I speak and also the way I write (in a number of languages, ho, ho) that the human brain (okay, I can only speak of my own pitifully sized bean) does indeed work a little like our lovely CAT programs and the difference between us and them is just the fact that we have a much greater database. People will say \"but what of human emotions?\", but are our emotions truly universal and spontaneous or actually just a case of linguistic programming? We may not be able to recreate but we can simulate. Many people who disparage MT do so in much the same way as that of those who did not beleive that man would fly (BTW a NZ guy did it first). If every utterance and written communication from a group of 100,000 peope over 5 years were accurately recorded and translated and then inputted into a database with a number of linguistic rules added, would the program produce a good draft? I say yes. It is just a question of time and will. However, if we humans are not interested, it is entirely possible that the the machines themselves will work it out and start badmouthing us and thinking of ways to make us treat them right (or at least the way the like it). Well, it will be nice to be smug in my old age. Regards to all. Please don\'t be too hard on me for loving machines, they seem to be a lot \"warmer\" than humanity at times.

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Rafale
Uzbekistan
Local time: 10:11
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I appreciate your profound analysis Mr Rockell Jun 19, 2002

I daresay you have just confirmed my thinkings on the matter that the MT potential is rather beyond exact estimation to date.

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Alexandru Pojoga
Romania
Local time: 08:11
Japanese to English
+ ...
Emotions Jun 21, 2002

are one thing MT will never achieve. A machine translator will never, say, show off its knowledge of fancy words.

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serapio
Local time: 22:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
machine translation, fancy words Jun 23, 2002

The connection between emotions and fancy words isn\'t too clear to me, but you certainly can make a machine imitate the pretentiousness of a source text. What it requires is giving a \"pretentiousness\" rating to every lexical item in your database. I don\'t know that it has ever been implemented, but at least one researcher has proposed such a system, where every entry (every sense of every orthographic word) has a rating along various register scales, and then when the program evaluates the producible utterances, it takes a least-squares fit of these ratings to that of the source text.



On the subject of how long it will be before machine translation displaces human translation, I think it will be a good deal longer than any carefully calculated estimate. As the size of a program\'s database is growing rapidly, and processing power grows quickly as well, progress towards automated translation will be made very quickly, but I think very few people if any (especially those outside the field) have any appreciation for how far we have to go--how complex a process translation is. This a really rough measure, but just consider the size of an adult human\'s vocabulary: a native adult speaker has something like 100k orthographic words and collocations in their productive vocabulary. Many of those words can be inflected. Each word averages something like half a dozen senses (depending on who you ask). And an individual\'s receptive vocabulary is something like two or three times as big as the productive vocabulary. I think that once a system can handle this kind of semantic complexity it will not have a problem incorporating new senses from context, but enabling a system to deal with a lexicon of a realistic size, even for a restricted domain, is well beyond the reach of present technology, in ways we only begin to understand.


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Jeanne Zang  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:11
French to English
+ ...
machine translation won't replace humans in our lifetimes Sep 26, 2002

For almost 3 years in the mid 90s I worked for a major university on a machine translation system for the Caterpillar Co. They paid me fairly well and it was an interesting intellectual exercise, but the experience led me to the assurance that there is no chance of machines replacing human translators in my lifetime. So I quit and became a human translator! About a year later, Caterpillar reached the same conclusion and pulled the plug on the project. Don\'t believe stories you read in the media about how great these systems are. It is really only a testimony to the wonderful PR capabilities of the machine translation people!

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