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Poll: Will the Google Translation Center affect your business?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:47
SITE STAFF
Aug 15, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Will the Google Translation Center affect your business?".

This poll was originally submitted by TRYTUN Translation Services

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:17
Member
German to English
Would someone educate me ? (and others too, perhaps!) Aug 15, 2008

I'm afraid I'm in the dark about this and have answered with a "don't know". I note that as on 15.34 hours GMT on the 15th of August 2008, a large majority (65.1%, with 195 votes in) have given such an answer. Perhaps some colleagues could tell us what this (proposed?) Google Translation Center is all about?

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Valeria Aliperta  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:47
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes please! Aug 15, 2008

I am definitely in the dark with you!
Please someone explain it :s


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Google Translation Center Aug 15, 2008

Venkatesh Sundaram wrote:

I'm afraid I'm in the dark about this and have answered with a "don't know". I note that as on 15.34 hours GMT on the 15th of August 2008, a large majority (65.1%, with 195 votes in) have given such an answer. Perhaps some colleagues could tell us what this (proposed?) Google Translation Center is all about?


There's a Cnet news article about it here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html.

Basically, Google is acting as an intermediary between translators and clients. But since the translations are submitted through this service, it's probably also building up the parallel corpora underlying Google's online machine translation, thus allowing better context matching.

As the Cnet article put it: "Google prefers to rely on computer algorithms rather than humans, so at first glance the Google Translation Center looks somewhat anomalous, even though Google is only playing a middleman role. But it's possible that the human translators might be gradually improving Google's machine translation technology as they work, in effect helping to put themselves out of a job."

I think improvements to machine translation in general are more likely to affect generalist translators than ones who work in niche markets or less widespread languages. In fields where there's a high risk of law suits -- medical and pharmaceutical translation for instance -- it would be foolish for clients to rely on machine translation, especially for narrative text. In the last patient chart I translated there were phrases that could mean diametrically opposed things depending on context... and even for a human translator it was tricky to figure it out.

[Edited at 2008-08-15 15:53]


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keshab  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:17
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Machine language can't affect human language Aug 15, 2008

The reason is simple. Human mind is not only logical like machine, it has a plenty of sentiments also which reflects in the human language. Machine can catch one mood only, where an human being is able to catch many moods and choice the appropriate word from the treasure of his language. We can say "He cries". But why he cries? Can google explain it with appropriate word? In English it is rather easy to say "he cries in pain"," he cries in joy" but many languages in the world have different words for different expressions. Only human translator can "feel" the word with his sense which is far ahead from the capacity of machine.

Science can reach to its highest point but till now (and also in future) it can't replace human brain (sentiments). It is not possible for google to affect anyway the human translator's business.

[Edited at 2008-08-15 16:18]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not in the least Aug 15, 2008

A local market, specialized work and a lot of paper documents will keep me in business for as long as I wish.

And I agree with Keshab, language is human and machines are machines.


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:17
Member
German to English
Thanks for the update - it may affect us (adversely) in course of time Aug 15, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

Venkatesh Sundaram wrote:

I'm afraid I'm in the dark about this and have answered with a "don't know". I note that as on 15.34 hours GMT on the 15th of August 2008, a large majority (65.1%, with 195 votes in) have given such an answer. Perhaps some colleagues could tell us what this (proposed?) Google Translation Center is all about?


There's a Cnet news article about it here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html.

Basically, Google is acting as an intermediary between translators and clients. But since the translations are submitted through this service, it's probably also building up the parallel corpora underlying Google's online machine translation, thus allowing better context matching.

As the Cnet article put it: "Google prefers to rely on computer algorithms rather than humans, so at first glance the Google Translation Center looks somewhat anomalous, even though Google is only playing a middleman role. But it's possible that the human translators might be gradually improving Google's machine translation technology as they work, in effect helping to put themselves out of a job."

I think improvements to machine translation in general are more likely to affect generalist translators than ones who work in niche markets or less widespread languages. In fields where there's a high risk of law suits -- medical and pharmaceutical translation for instance -- it would be foolish for clients to rely on machine translation, especially for narrative text. In the last patient chart I translated there were phrases that could mean diametrically opposed things depending on context... and even for a human translator it was tricky to figure it out.

[Edited at 2008-08-15 15:53]


Keshab wrote "Only human translator can "feel" the word with his sense which is far ahead from the capacity of machine.

Science can reach to its highest point but till now (and also in future) it can't replace human brain (sentiments). It is not possible for google to affect anyway the human translator's business.


Thanks for the update Steven. Having read the article you linked to, I would also like to reply to my countryman, Keshab.

Without relying on the repertoire of science fiction, I would say that it is quite conceivable for the Google methods to come very very close to the human "feel" of the word or phrase. What it would be doing is essentially to rely on HUMAN translation tp build up an enormous data base of texts and their fairly authentic translations in several languages. Combined with Google's search engine technology, it could in theory be possible for these methods to choose the phrase with the best"feel" in a given situation from amongst a number of possibilities. Hence it is (at least theoretically) possible that it could put a large number of human translators out of business (eventually)!

But then again, it is human translators who would be working to build up the data bases in the first place, so they would have sufficient work to do at least in the short run. Furthermore, human endeavour (and with it, human sentiments, feelings and the like) will keep creating new frontiers of knowledge, and someone ( a set of human translators ?) would have to keep updating the data bases!

On another note, in the early days of the industrial age, human workers destroyed (newly developed) machines using wooden shoes ("sabots" -> sabotage) and the like. But while the work of several humans was performed by a single machine ( a process of automation which continues till this day), the humans moved on to better (?!) things..... I guess the future of "machine" translation would perhaps be quite similar.

[Edited at 2008-08-15 16:58]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Google Translation Center Aug 15, 2008

Computer translation (assisted by crowd-sourcing, translation memory and existing translations on the net) 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 they are 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).

MT is not adequate for many types of translation work. In a specialist field, such as legal translation, for example, you not only have to deal with the asymmetry of two different language systems, but there is also a second layer of asymmetry between two different cultural systems (ex. common vs civil law). In this sense, translation becomes an exercise in problem solving. How do you translate a concept or idea that does not exist in the target language?

However, 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 2008-08-15 17:16]


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:47
French to English
+ ...
No worries, but awareness Aug 15, 2008

The poll question was whether the Google Translation Center would affect my business.

I don't think so, for the following reasons:

1. Most of the time, I work with direct clients, not through intermediaries - and in that light Google's Translation Center is just another filter.
2. Though I do use Wordfast to simplify the translation and quality control processes, I rarely benefit from fuzzy matches given the nature of my projects. How would the eventual leverage the GTC's TM benefit me?
3. Companies who would source their translation service provider through the GTC would, in all likelihood, be those who would source through Proz, i.e. looking for a quick response at a low price most of the time. This is not my market.
4. Beyond issues of confidentiality -- I think my current clients would not like to take the risk that their translations become part of a large database aimed at improving machine translations. If all corporate communications start, over time, to "sound" the same, companies would loose their unique voice and image.
5. The GTC is not going to change, IMHO, clients and prospects frequent complaint that they have a hard time finding excellent translators and writers. The GTC is, like ProZ, open to professionals and non professionals alike. This does not help end clients to make the appropriate decision in light of their needs and expectations.

But, as professionals, all of us must keep abreast of developments such as the GTC or TAUS (discussed in another thread) - to inform our clients, respond to their questions, leverage their eventual benefits where possible, affirm our added value.. and avoid the pitfalls (example: will the TAUS' mega database be better than the references available through KudoZ or IATE for example or not??).

Such developments should not be feared. Just as with other paradigm changes (i.e. industrialization and the assembly line), this may well shake up the offering on the market, with "the custom made segment" floating even more easily to the top.

My two Eurocents...

Patricia


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xxxKRAT  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:47
Italian to English
+ ...
Will the Google Translation affect your business? Aug 15, 2008

As a new Translation Tool, I'll try it, and since Google is reliable I consider seriously of adopting it..In these terms it will affect my business!

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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 22:47
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Great points Aug 15, 2008

I believe Patricia has a good point: How would this affect confidentiality?
What would an end client think about the idea of their translations being used publicly, even if it were in some way "disguised" or made anonymous?

But I also agree that a certain part of the market will be more than happy to get a poor translation in exchange for much lower rates.

Enjoy your weekend!

Laureana


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Elin Davies  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2008)
English to Welsh
+ ...
Too early to say Aug 15, 2008

I think this poll is slightly premature seeing that, as far as I know, this hasn't been launched yet and only a very few have seen the platform before it was whisked away again as it's not actually gone public yet. We'll have to wait and see what it is once it turns up before deciding on how it will influence us I think.

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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:47
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
+2 Aug 15, 2008

Patricia Lane wrote:

The poll question was whether the Google Translation Center would affect my business.

I don't think so, for the following reasons:

1. Most of the time, I work with direct clients, not through intermediaries - and in that light Google's Translation Center is just another filter.
2. Though I do use Wordfast to simplify the translation and quality control processes, I rarely benefit from fuzzy matches given the nature of my projects. How would the eventual leverage the GTC's TM benefit me?
3. Companies who would source their translation service provider through the GTC would, in all likelihood, be those who would source through Proz, i.e. looking for a quick response at a low price most of the time. This is not my market.
4. Beyond issues of confidentiality -- I think my current clients would not like to take the risk that their translations become part of a large database aimed at improving machine translations. If all corporate communications start, over time, to "sound" the same, companies would loose their unique voice and image.
5. The GTC is not going to change, IMHO, clients and prospects frequent complaint that they have a hard time finding excellent translators and writers. The GTC is, like ProZ, open to professionals and non professionals alike. This does not help end clients to make the appropriate decision in light of their needs and expectations.

But, as professionals, all of us must keep abreast of developments such as the GTC or TAUS (discussed in another thread) - to inform our clients, respond to their questions, leverage their eventual benefits where possible, affirm our added value.. and avoid the pitfalls (example: will the TAUS' mega database be better than the references available through KudoZ or IATE for example or not??).

Such developments should not be feared. Just as with other paradigm changes (i.e. industrialization and the assembly line), this may well shake up the offering on the market, with "the custom made segment" floating even more easily to the top.

My two Eurocents...

Patricia


plus my two. could not agree more.


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All new to me, good or bad ...... Aug 16, 2008

To be honest, I've never heard of such until now.
So I googled for Google Translation and in order to test its feasibility I inserted few English sentences to be translated into Japanese.
Verdict ------- It is so primitive there is no reason I should be threatened by this potential competition.

However, while that appears to be a current situation, there is a huge potential there, for good or for bad.

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

A new class of translators may emerge who specialize in "fixing" or "editing" MT-generated translations.

[Edited at 2008-08-15 17:16]


Things are chaniging so fast and we professional translators have to keep abreast with these progresses.
While I think this is neither immediate nor a serious threat to our profession, yes some of us in near future making living by telling that dumb machine what is right and what is wrong.
Me? No I do not want to be there.


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 02:47
English to French
+ ...
No Aug 16, 2008

Machine translation will and can only affect part of the market: the jobs for which the customer does not need a relationship of trust, where he accepts responsibility for the mistakes the machine can and will make, or takes the time and effort to check the result.
I'm not saying it will never happen, just not quite so soon!


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