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What do you think of the planned Google Translation Center?
Thread poster: Pristine
Pristine
Local time: 11:31
English to German
Nov 19, 2008

Do you think it will help customers and us human translators or do you think it will make us work for almost nothing?

I believe started testing it in April of this year....

Pristine


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
More info here Nov 19, 2008

http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2008-08-04-n48.html

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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:31
Member (2006)
English to French
Another thread Nov 19, 2008

http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/111803-google_translation_center_a_new_online_market_for_translators.html

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Pristine
Local time: 11:31
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 19, 2008

For the links.

Pristine


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:31
French to English
+ ...
Will depend on they're actually offering... Nov 20, 2008

It seems to me that translation "consumers" tend to fall into one of three camps:
(1) people who would never have paid for the translation before the days of Machine Translation-- e.g. "live" translations of an IM session, translating "I love you" or words to that effect (probably the most frequent use of on-line translation systems if truth be known);
(2) people needing "serious" translation tasks, but for whom the translation is an "annoying, administrative task" that they just want doing as quickly and cheaply as possible: either they don't understand what's actually involved, or they don't care too much about quality for their purposes;
(3) people for whom quality of translations is the most important factor and they're willing to pay for it, and who appreciate a 'personal' contact with a translator that understands their specific needs.

The Google service is *probably* aimed at people in group (2), but it's hard to tell without seeing the details. Let me explain my hunch:

A few years ago, Google research director Peter Norvig hinted in a talk on Google Translate that a next step would be to introduce some kind of "vetting/correction" service. What he was speaking about was clearly a brokering system for humans to *correct* translations made by Google's machine translation service. (I should point out that he didn't specifically mention whether Google were working on this or if it was just something they wanted to see a third party introduce-- but either way, the idea was clearly in Google's minds.) If this is what Google's new service is, it seems to me that it would be marketed and seen as an "extension service" to their MT system-- i.e. the kind of thing that people in group (2) would pay a small fee for. People in group (3) probably wouldn't be fooled into thinking they were getting a true "human translation from the bottom-up" service. Meanwhile, people in group (1) would probably take the risk rather than waiting for the MT rendition of "I want you now, baby" to be proofread.

On the other hand, an interesting feature of the new service may turn out to be potential collaboration among different translators on the same document. If implemented correctly, this could potentially mean translations with *more* scrutiny than is typically the case in a one-translator-one-proofreader situation. Open source computing projects on the Internet and (arguably) projects such as Wikipedia show that "the truth can out" from mass collaboration. And part of Google's philosophy and expertise (again, see some of Peter Norvig's presentations) is in "finding the right answer from shear volumes of data". Maybe this philosophy can work for translation.

So how will this affect the translation market? Well, clients in group (2) will continue to outsource their German-English translations to Mongolian-speaking green men on the moon if it gives them a better price. Clients in group (3) will probably only become interested if the new Google tool turns out to be a true means of translator collaboration.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
Italian to English
+ ...
I doubt that it will have any effect on my business Nov 20, 2008

I'd say my (end) clients generally fall into group 3 of Neil's list, whether because they really care about translation quality or the nature of their business means they have to. I think it's extremely unlikely that medical and pharmaceutical translations are ever going to be channeled through a service like the Google Translation Centre. Mine also seems to be a pretty recession-proof sector, judging from the quantity of work I'm having to turn down at the moment (and I sincerely hope these won't prove to be famous last words...)

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