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Machine Translation - anyone using it successfully?
Thread poster: gianfranco

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:08
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Jun 18, 2001

I would like to know if there is anyone successfully using MT tools in their translation cycle, in-house or as a freelancer.



I know, I know... this is likely to raise a hell of a negative criticism, but this is not exactly what I\'m aiming at.



Please, don\'t flood this topic with all the obvious comments about the rubbish that you have seen coming out from MT. We all agree that any self-respecting translator wouldn\'t deliver the output straight from the MT tool.



I\'m just curious to know if MT tools have been integrated in a translation cycle, that includes all the necessary steps in editing, reviewing, spell-checking and proof-reading, according to the quality requirements.



Any experience to share?



[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-06-18 02:14 ]


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Uwe Schwenk
Local time: 08:08
English to German
Jun 19, 2001

Gianfranco,



in regards to your question for MT tools and the integration, I will provide you with my experiences on this. However, I am looking at it from the point of view not only using MT tools but integrating them with a TM system.



Lets\' start out by saying there are MT tools and there are MT tools.



One of the most important considerations anybody considering the use of any MT or TM tool should be the type of documentation to be translated. This is based on my experience quite often an afterthought, while the main focus lies within increasing volume, etc.



Not every tool is the right tool for you. Let me provide you with a practical example on what I am talking about. While we decided to standardize on Trados quite a few years back, it\'s not the only tool in our arsenal, because Trados is not the one size fits all solution. No tool is.



If you have for example very repetitive text, Trados is a nice tool, especially the new version 5 with the Xtranslate function. It will save quite some time. But if the volume is several hundred thousand words and above, Trados requires to much \"horsepower\" to get this done in an (for the client) acceptable timeframe. We have right now a number of Databases just for one client with close to a million TUs and you need some serious equipment to get this going.



If you have on the other hand for example text written in controlled English (we have a few large clients who have been using controlled English for years), than we use the Enterprise edition of Systran. It\'s faster, has a lot smaller footprint.



Can these two for example be used together to create a workflow?



Yes they can, BUT one has to think this one through very carefully. While the Trados website describes the integration with Systran in their KB article 147, this article is from the Trados point of view. While fully true, it does not cover any of the aspects involved.



In using an MT system like in my example with controlled English, there are a number of preparations involved not only on the Source text, but also in regards to educating the client on how to prepare the text, the dos and don\'ts, etc. This in itself is already a considerable challenge as we all know.



However, this is only half of the equation. The other half is the preparation on your end for coding the English, preparing the MT dictionaries, so you get the results desired.



We approached this type of integration in a totally different way. We actually started out building up the Systran System extensively and used this first. Once the documentation is linguistically finalized, we then align the documents and create the corresponding Trados Databases. The reason for this consists in the fact that sometimes small updates do not warrant the setting up for Systran, especially the last minute updates from clients with a release date pressuring. Thats where Trados comes in, because it takes less time to get started. Once the client is satisfied, we then go the other way around and also update the Systran system. In this manner everything matches. While this may sound awkward and complictaed, it fits our purposes perfectly, the clients are happoy and thats what we want. Also, we created specialized applications just for these integration issues and we have technical specialists whois sole respomnsibility is to maintain this environment.



In my opinion, when integrating MT and TM tools together one should realize that it will be a considerable challenge and maintenance on your end, meaning it will take a few years of building it up in order to make something of it and you might want to consider whether it will be worthwhile, since we all have to earn a living.



In final, MT tool workflows can be created all the way through from start to finish, but it\'s not a quickie with installing the tool and off you go. It is a long-term investment. In our case it took almost 4 years to really build it up and get it going, but now we handle a few million words per quarter and language.



[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-06-25 09:37 ]


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:08
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jun 20, 2001

Thank you for sharing your experience.

You are perfectly right. MT tool are not instant solutions.



You have described very well your real-world experience, independently from the marketing blurb that we can get from the tools sellers.



You have made very clear that an MT tools can be used only within a larger and well planned production cycle, which must include at least the following steps:



1. Preparation of large quantities of standardized text

2. Preparation of the appropriate glossaries

3. Integration between the MT and one or more other tools (including TM, project management, version control, etc...)

4. Translation proper

5. Finalization and QA before delivery



I have studied an MT software (no product names here) and played a bit with it, not for a specific customer but to know more about its capabilities and limits.

I foumd it very interesting and even surprisingly good at times, but at the moment I am convinced that it is not a sofware of practical daily use for freelancers.



A single translator cannot deal successfully with such large quantities of text to justify the investment and the effort.

All the preparation steps and processes before delivery, glossary preparation, etc... are definitely into the domain of translation agencies or in-house translation department but only for large projects (over 600-800 thousand words)



MT tools are for teams rather than single freelance translators.







[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-06-20 06:03 ]


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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
Jun 20, 2001

I agree with all of the above.



Here is my take:



I find it unrealistic, on the part of too many agencies nowadays, to expect freelancers to own every single TM tool under the sun. One day, they require you to have Trados, then Deja Vu, then God knows what else. These tools are very expensive (even at discounted rates), and a freelancer cannot possibly buy all of them. Agencies who \"block out\" experienced and qualified translators just because they don\'t have TM software XYZ is short-sighted and not fair to the freelance community (just see today\'s job postings: Star ... MUST).



TM tools and termsbases really make sense for agencies dealing with huge projects; they are project-management tools, in effect. For freelancers, their use is of limited advantage.



I use Trados and Deja Vu (DV is my favorite, but I decided to buy Trados because a) so many clients expect and take it for granted now and b) it was available at a discount). The reason why I use these 2 has primarily to do with the editing/formatting aspect of inserting one\'s translation into a Word or Excel, etc. file: these tools facilitate the process of maintaining the original formats, and I won\'t have to type my translation into the original file and then go back and delete the original wording.



Translation memory, as such, is also of limited value: in most cases, even in highly repetitive texts, fuzzy logic and all the rest of it cannot and will not produce the results one might expect.



Don\'t forget: we are dealing with language, and language is a living, \"breathing\" thing - one of the most \"human\" activities. Therefore, a machine will never be able to capture that or automatize the process in a useful manner.



So, for me the bottomline is: TM tools assist me in the formatting and editing of texts, but that\'s it (apart from some \"perfect TM matches\" - but they are few and far between!!!!!).



For agencies, yes, they help streamline terminology, etc. - especially if there are 10 translators working on different parts of a project.



[Personal note: if companies learned how to plan and schedule their projects, there would be no need for such rush affairs; individual translators could handle such jobs (maybe even 2 or 3 working on a project is still fairly reasonable). And don\'t forget: even the best project manager will not be able to ensure consistent use of terminology and style throughout a huge project with 10 translators; and style is something that TM or MT cannot, and will not, cater to.]


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:08
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jun 21, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-06-20 11:52, eurotransl wrote:

I agree with all of the above.



I find it unrealistic, on the part of too many agencies nowadays, to expect freelancers to own every single TM tool under the sun. One day, they require you to have Trados, then Deja Vu, then God knows what else...





Please, do not confuse the subject of this topic, MT (Machine Translation) with the TM (Translation Memory) tools.



My opinion that MT are mainly tools for \'teams\' does NOT apply to TM tools.

TM tools have definitely good applications in both fields, agencies/teams and single freelancers.



Some of your opinions about the limited scope of TM tools for freelancers are correct but you have to think globally.

Just consider the simple case of some documentation, let\'s say a medium sized project with 100,000 words. An update may involve 10-15,000 new words and some amendments.

Without a TM tool its translation would cost as much as the first time while using a TM software and terminology database the translation cost will be reduced to a fraction.

An agency/customer can send to the linguists a translation memory and instruct them to translate the new parts. Huge savings in time and money!!



Agencies are free to ask for professionals expert in the tool of their choice, it is up to the translators to make an informed choice and acquire a minimum set of \'tools of the trade\' to be able to answer to the business requests.

Just like any other trade or profession, really.



Regarding to the cost, I think that the major (and hidden) costs are in the training, or self-training, the time spent reading the manuals and acquiring familiarity with the various software. Compared to this investment the price paid for a software is almost irrelevant.



And now, back to the original topic:

Machine Translation and users experiences.



[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-06-21 03:41 ]

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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
Jun 21, 2001

MT cannot be separated from TM and vice-versa.



Quite frankly, I have yet to see that MT actually helps save time: a translation generated solely by a machine always needs to be edited and corrected - at least 95% of it.



I see it with my TM tools as well: going into fuzzy matches and then editing them takes more time than writing that particular sentence, etc. yourself.



Editing, I find, is also quite a tricky issue. Rates for editing are usually lower than for translation, but editing does require even more concentration. In editing, you may be \"misled\" by the text already there (\"interference\"), which may result in a considerable error/omission rate.



Relying on editing as a \"panacea\" to MT, in effect, opens the door to such editing mistakes (this, plus the original shortcomings of MT, will result in a translation that I would never dare sell to my client).



Systran seems to be a name going around when it comes to MT, but I have seen examples of Systran-generated translations, and they are, for the most part, and apart from some rare instances, useless.





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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:08
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jun 22, 2001

Quote:


On 2001-06-21 08:14, eurotransl wrote:

Quite frankly, I have yet to see that MT actually helps save time: a translation generated solely by a machine always needs to be edited and corrected - at least 95% of it.





Your negative comments may be caused by the simple fact that a single person cannot deal successfully with \'team\' tools designed for a different class of users.



A large project, much larger than what a single person can possibly handle, may benefit from a number of tools (including MT) and their carefully planned deployment, using also the skills and resources available only to a large organization.



Project managers, reviewers, terminologists, programmers and other specialists, each one of them taking care of checking, extracting, filtering, fixing a particular aspect of the project.



The final result makes possible to deliver in an acceptable timespan what a single person couldn\'t possibly produce in its whole life.



The quality, under these conditions, will be the result of a compromise and should be put into the equation since the beginning.

Technical or internal documentation doesn\'t always require the same level of linguistic accuracy as other documents due for publication.







[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-06-22 07:05 ]

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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
Jun 22, 2001

I don\'t doubt the time-spans and volumes you mention, but quality is a very different matter (you say so yourself).



Actually, I find it bewildering that companies or clients should settle for a level of quality that would not even come under the heading of \"mediocre\".



Apart from the issues of MT, what does this attitude say about the business practices of such companies??? They don\'t care about quality? They will settle for a machine-generated translation (ie, unnatural and wrong use of the language) edited by a team of human translators (with the edited version still packed with mistakes)???



If such companies answer Yes to the above questions, then it is safe to assume that they are anything but reliable when it comes to other activities related to their business as well.



Even if these documents only serve internal purposes, it is still highly unprofessional.


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Hans-Bertil Karlsson
Sweden
Local time: 15:08
Norwegian to Swedish
+ ...
Jul 4, 2001

There is another view of this subject - layout!



Many companies want their manuals etc layouted with images and sketches. This cannot be done in a simple word-processor,like MS Word. Instead they use PageMaker, Quark etc. As far as I know, the TM\'s cannot work with these files. Even if they can, technically, a machine can never wrap text around images etc like a human can. As the text-flow in these programs are in \"frames\", you still will have a very cumbersome editing work to do after a machine translation - to check that the \"right text is in the right frame\"



WORSE: As companies don\'t like to send out PM och Quark-files with all images etc, they send out PDF\'s instead. These can definitely not be machine translated, as the Acrobat format is based line by line.



The most useful tool (in my opinion) is a voice-recognition tool. The slowest part of the work is typing in all text, if the VR-system can do that, then you can handle rather big volumes of text.



BTW: I worked with a big \"updating\" of around 200.000 words recently. All was MS Word-files.



I worked with the built-in \"compare versions\" in MS Word and compared the new version with the old. I have a dual-monitor system - in one monitor I had the \"compared\" file (with the differences marked in red) and on the other monitor the old translated file. I just cut/pasted from the \"compared\" file to the old, and thus could easy update any changes. Of course I did not have to \"re-translate\" anything that was not changed.



As a side-effect I could also use MS-words built in word-counter and made a small excel-sheet to enter the counted words from both version, and could in that way only charge my client for what was \"new translated words\" (and removed of course. I charged half price for those removed...)
[addsig]


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xxxeurotransl
German to English
+ ...
Jul 5, 2001

Déjà Vu allows for several file formats (including Excel, PowerPoint, PageMaker, etc.).



But you are right: even with TM or MT, you will still be stuck with a major editing effort - and the results may still be far from perfect.



I like your dual-monitor approach, but it is not a useful option for most of us.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:08
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jul 6, 2001

DTP and Voice Recognition are completely different issues and they don\'t fall exactly under the Translation Machine topic.

The same applies to import/export.



There are many utilities around for dealing with file content and the MT can be applied somewhere along the process.



By the way, it would be interesting to open two new topics about import/export and Voice Recognition products and techniques.





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taruna
Local time: 15:08
English to Italian
I use ViaVoice Nov 24, 2001

Hi Gianfranco,

I have been using ViaVoice, Standard Edition. It has been very useful for me. Translating loud helps me figuring out if what I am translating soundsgood, and I can even rehear it, which for people who have poor eyes is a great help.


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Simon Sobrero  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:08
Italian to English
+ ...
I use MT (Systran) as a freelancer (works well in my combination) but I am impeded by: May 14, 2008

I use MT (Systran) as a freelancer (works well in my combination) but I am impeded by:

1) poor integration with TM tools that I know about (SDLX used to have a MT function but have removed it).

2) poor 'automatic terminology extraction software' (See my forum postings about SDL Phrasefinder in these forums); I have heard of no products that can handle large numbers of TM segments. And I am still looking.

I run 'machine revision' and MT software (mostly D.I.Y. and very manual) to standardise my text. I also use it to clean up OCR. I always try to use MS Word if I can.
I don't care if the text becomes a little flat, because I work on a brute force method: if 90% of the time the word I need is "contract", I don't care if it might be "agreement" for the other 10%, it saves typing, remembering and having to look up the word that 90% of the time.

Of course, I then need to stand back and carefully revise the text, because despite the increased accuracy and standardisation, there could be problems of literalness and poor style. Needless to say I do mainly technical, contract and legal translation - for beautiful prose you might as well not bother building complex MT systems on a manual basis.

I suffer from absolutely no RSI to my hands. But I have had to develop several macros and manual cut-and-paste skills to turn e.g. 'order of purchase' into 'purchase order', if you know what I mean.

Any more news on this topic anyone?
www.sobrero.co.uk

[Edited at 2008-05-14 15:40]

[Edited at 2008-05-14 15:42]


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