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results of survey on translation speed
Thread poster: Jeff Allen

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:22
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
Oct 10, 2004

The results of a survey on translation speed, without computer-assisted translation, have been published in the following article:

ALLEN, Jeffrey. March 2004. Translation speed versus content management. In special supplement of Multilingual Computing and Technology magazine, Number 62, March 2004.
http://www.multilingual.com/machineTranslation62.htm

This might be of help in comparing your translation output speed with a published average.

Regards,

Jeff Allen
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs

Editorial Advisory Board Member
MultiLingual Computing & Technology magazine
http://www.multilingual.com/editorialBoard


[Edited at 2004-10-12 12:37]


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 17:22
French to English
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Why is speed so important? Oct 10, 2004

Dear Jeff:

Machine translation will never achieve the level of the human brain. Our brains use more than typing speed and word recognition to come up with beautiful, flowing texts.

More importantly, many people using this website take pride in truly understanding the source text and making sure that it is clearly written in the target text.

Expressions and idiomatic phrases are what compose the uniqueness of language. Does machine translation aim to destroy that?

When I can input:

"piece of cake"
"bark up the wrong tree"
"beat around the bush"
"bend over backwards"
"backfire"
(yes, people use these terms in management reports)

or be guaranteed that verbs and nouns are never confused
(screw, hammer, flag, hold, invoice, burn, act)

These are just a few examples in English - every language has its own flavor.

Sorry to be a party-pooper but speed just doesn't do it for me


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:22
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
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TOPIC STARTER
reply about translation speed (and MT) Oct 10, 2004

Thanks for your reply Rita.

Machine translation and translation speed:
In my translation speed survey, there is no mention of machine translation at all. My survey article found references to translation speed surveys conducted by the ATA and a German assocation of translators over the past 20 years, long before any CAT tools were widely used.
The article was rather a reponse to confusion between translation speed and content management. It explains that accepting jobs and doing any kind of project management of translation activities needs to start with some sort of baseline. There are two things that can be measured "typing speed" and "average translation speed". Most translation agencies and translation departments that I know of want to have some kind of metric to base their quarterly and yearly productivity on. This survey is a concrete attempt to provide a baseline measure.

MT replacing the human brain:
Of course MT will never achieve the level of the human brain. I have never claimed it could. I have always stated that we should use computer-based applications to do what they are best at (ie, finding and replacing based on known elements) and use our human brains and effort on what we humans are best at doing (ie, thinking and being creative).
Let's take an example from daily work. Imagine that I have a long document that contains the terms "spellchecker", "web site", and "on-line" each at least 10 times, yet each of them is spelled 2+ different ways (spellchecker, spell checker, and spell-checker; web site, Website, and website; online and on-line). Of course if it possible to manually go through the entire text and change the non-desidered spellings to the desired spelling, or it is possible to use a search/replace mechanism in the text editor to do it. I would prefer to use the tool to do this kind of task, and use my brain to do the creative translation aspects of the job.

Idiomatic expressions:
Of course idioms are the unique part of language. Yet, I put them in the MT dictionary along with other types of entries. Then it recognizes them. And if they are frequently used ones, then each time it comes up, the system inserts it, rather than me needing to manually type in the text (including typing error rates that require additional proofing time).

Ambiguity:
As for nound and verb ambiguity, I code all of the variants into the MT dictionary, along with any linking words (such as prepositions for verbs), and then the systems automatically makes the distinction and presents one or more examples to me to simply choose (click on and move onword) the next time around. I have even now managed to use MT dictionaries to take into account stylistic variation in expressions.

All of the idiomatic expressions that you have indicated, plus their variant spellings (backfire, back-fire) and the possibility of having additional inserted words into the expression (bend over backwards; bend XXX over backwards) can all be very quickly entered with a simple user interface into good MT systems.

My motto for many years has always been "never rewrite what has already been written & never retranslate what has already been translated. Let the system retrieve them, and then review and adapt as needed according the the customer needs and context"

Thanks again for your comments.

Jeff

Rita Heller wrote:
Machine translation will never achieve the level of the human brain. Our brains use more than typing speed and word recognition to come up with beautiful, flowing texts.

More importantly, many people using this website take pride in truly understanding the source text and making sure that it is clearly written in the target text.

Expressions and idiomatic phrases are what compose the uniqueness of language. Does machine translation aim to destroy that?

When I can input:

"piece of cake"
"bark up the wrong tree"
"beat around the bush"
"bend over backwards"
"backfire"
(yes, people use these terms in management reports)

or be guaranteed that verbs and nouns are never confused
(screw, hammer, flag, hold, invoice, burn, act)


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 17:22
French to English
+ ...
"PERSPECTIVES ON MACHINE TRANSLATION" is the title Oct 10, 2004

[quote]mtpostediting wrote:

Machine translation and translation speed:
In my translation speed survey, there is no mention of machine translation at all.
--------------------------------------------------
"PERSPECTIVES ON MACHINE TRANSLATION" is the title and my text editor counted 3 occurrences of MT and 1 occurrence of "machine translation" in the text of your article.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thanks:-) Oct 11, 2004

Hi Jeff

Interesting journal, interesting articles, will be keen to read them once I get some ink for my printer:-)


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 19:22
SITE FOUNDER
Nice article Oct 11, 2004

Thanks, Jeff.

We have done a couple rounds of surveys here on the topic, and saw a similar difference in hourly vs. daily throughput. Follow-on surveys suggested that when quoting an hourly speed, translators may tend to quote a "burst" speed more frequently than they do when quoting daily rates. It turns out that even when specifying daily, to be clear you have to ask specifically for burst rate or sustainable rate.

Henry


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:22
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
magazine supplement title doesn't really reflect article content Oct 11, 2004

Rita,
That is the title that the magazine editor chose for the supplement to represent the overall group of articles. My article on translation speed just happened to be more thematically related to MT than to speech recognition, or Java-based Internationalization, or .NET localization issues.
The 1 occurrence of "machine translation" in the text of my article is the first sentence that introduces the article: "An organization informed me some months ago that it was conducting a Machine Translation (MT) pilot study". I guess I did mention it once, but the article was not at all focused on promoting MT.
Apart from the first sentence, the rest of the article is very human translation focused and explains that their MT implementation would probably not be successful because they did not consider the human translation cycle factors.

best,
Jeff


Rita Heller wrote:
"PERSPECTIVES ON MACHINE TRANSLATION" is the title and my text editor counted 3 occurrences of MT and 1 occurrence of "machine translation" in the text of your article.


mtpostediting wrote:
Machine translation and translation speed:
In my translation speed survey, there is no mention of machine translation at all.


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