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Translation of Machine Translation – how scary is that?
Thread poster: Hermann

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to German
+ ...
May 8, 2010

We have heard of post-editing of machine translation to give it a ‘human touch’ and we know results under controlled conditions should be fairly intelligible. As such, in a normal business situation, all parties are aware of the issues and fully understand what is required.

What made me realize that things are not always as straightforward was a post on this site by a colleague who was given a ‘proofreading job’ and then - after quoting blindly (through the proz job system) – discovered that the translation he was asked to proofread was in fact machine-translated. Nevertheless, he still did not want to get back to the client to set things straight. He was prepared to carry out the ‘proofreading’ as agreed.

More recently, I have come across some Kudoz questions which were clearly the product of a machine translation, although obviously not clear enough for the askers who took on the task to translate this gobbledygook. Which also raises some doubts about their grasp of the source language they are supposed to master.

One of these delicacies from the Kudoz archive:

The lead angle defines to realize a roughing profile with a lead, the wheel work above the tool with C axis inclined equal to the lead.

Now, how scary is that?

Are we seeing a trend?.

[Edited at 2010-05-08 07:44 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I always ask! May 8, 2010

When somebody asks me to quote on proofreading work, I always ask whether it is machine translation and immediately reject it. If the technology improves in the long run, I might offer proofreading of MT text, but today it would be simply exhausting and underpaid.

 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:37
Flemish to English
+ ...
Scary May 8, 2010

The techonology will improve and then we will all become proofreaders, who give "a human touch" to MT. No rising trend though. Some "proofreading" demands on portals.

[Edited at 2010-05-08 07:10 GMT]


 

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not quite my point, Tomás… May 8, 2010

I am curious to know whether others have noticed a trend in enquiries for the translation of documents which were machine-translated from another language into English (without putting my finger on the map) or have seen Kudoz questions of that ilk. In the latter case, the asker being blissfully unaware of the situation.

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
casus omissus May 8, 2010

IMO it's but an anti-crisis vogue for a 'simple cheap just understandable translation'.

Hermann, here is your Google-tranlated quote processed into RU and back to EN:
"We have heard of post-editing of machine translation, to give it the 'human factor', and we know the results in controlled conditions, must be sufficiently clear. In particular, business in a normal situation, all parties aware of the issues and fully understand what is needed.

That made me realize that things do not always easy, was a post on this site to a colleague who received a 'proof-reading work, and then - after quoting blindly (through a system of Proz) - discovered that the translation is asked to adjust to the reality machine -translation. Nevertheless, he still did not want to go back to the client to set things right. He was prepared to 'editing' as agreed.

Recently I came across some questions KudoZ, which are clearly not the product of machine translation, though obviously not clear enough for askers who undertook to translate this gibberish. This also raises some doubts in their understanding of the source language, which they must master.

One of the delicacies from the archive KudoZ:

Lead angle determines to implement a rough profile of a lead, the wheels are working tool, with C-axis inclined to an equal wage.

Now, how scary is that?

Are we seeing a trend?

In general it might seem not that bad, especially if processed by sentence or paragraph, but it's obvious MT due to its evasive context. If I have (1) no source or (2) no option to make my own MT version then I also reject such 'slightly edited' MTs because it takes too long to check MS WORD thesaurus to find 'the correct' variant almost for every word. Sometimes clients do try to cheat forgetting that a good translator can check and prove whether it's MT... Bust it.

Once a friend of mine asked me to 'proofread MT just to be understandable' and provided the source. I looked at its MT for a moment and gave it back. He was disappointed thinking I rejected him, but in the evening I returned him my own version of MT. He was very grateful because it was 'human-like' (yet still MT). He almost killed me asking how I could cope with it *without his draft translation*...

They say there's no bad translators, but different degrees of QA... Who knows)


Cheers.

[Edited at 2010-05-08 07:36 GMT]


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:37
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark May 8, 2010

A client of mine is trying to intimidate... err, persuade its vendors to think that editing MT is all fine and dandy.
http://translate-media-uk.blogspot.com

DISCLAIMER: I'm not talking about Denmark. It's a quote from the Bard.

[Edited at 2010-05-08 16:43 GMT]


 

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This is not an argument for or against MT… May 8, 2010

[quote]DZiW wrote:
Hermann, here is your Google-tranlated quote processed into RU and back to EN:
[quote]

…and I know the capabilities of Google.

I am merely musing over the situation described above.

To make it more clear I give you an example*:
We have a client who needs to translate a document from say ‘Catamaran’* into several other languages. As there is a great shortage of translators who work from ‘Catamaran’ he produces at first a machine translation into English which will then become the source language for all the other translations. Although not a native English speaker, this client is so convinced that the results are perfect or at least usable that he goes on to commission human translators for the other less expensive languages. Of course, he could also have used machine translation for these languages but being an important assignment from a major customer he feels safer doing it this way.

In the meantime, those who accepted this job are struggling to make any sense of the MT-generated source text that they end up posting Kudoz questions like the one above, only to find out what they should have seen all along.

*purely fictional



[Edited at 2010-05-08 13:40 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The real scary part.... May 8, 2010

To me the most dangerous and scary part is that people do not realize that the new MT systems (like Google) sometimes translate words and phrases completely wrong (because they are finding statistical matches on the net and not translating word for word) and omit words and phrases they cannot find. The results often sound (almost) correct. The problem is that even after you correct the syntax and grammar, the resulting translation is sometimes completely different from what the source text actually says and parts of sentences and individual words are absent.

People think that if it sounds plausible and correct, then that is the translation. They never even suspect that the translation (meaning) itself could be completely inaccurate.

The only way to see this for yourself is to put a long document you have translated into MT (paragraph by paragraph) and read the results. Sounds great, but um, that's not what the document says... It is almost like a huge house of cards waiting to fall and I hope someone will not die or be injured (physically or financially) as a result.

[Edited at 2010-05-08 13:43 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:37
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Not scary... May 8, 2010

in every profession there are competent people and idiots...icon_wink.gif

 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:37
French to German
+ ...
And the rest,... May 8, 2010

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

in every profession there are competent people and idiots...icon_wink.gif


such as prophets of doom and gloom, like a person I know and who only feels good when they can bathe in negative thoughts or feelings.


 

Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:37
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Not scary May 8, 2010

I haven't been asked yet to proof a machine translation, but to me it would be no different than proofing a human translation, because I charge according to how good/bad the translation is, and I always ask for the original. When there is no original (which there always would be with a machine translation), I give my disclaimer that I can't absolutely guarantee the accuracy of the final results.

I have found that the quality of machine translation depends very much on the type of document being translated. Google Translate, for example, seems to do quite well with general texts, business texts, etc. I use it myself sometimes, as I've mentioned here before, because it saves me from having to retype many words, and sometimes comes up with some word or phrase that I hadn't thought of.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
just an anti-crisis trend May 8, 2010

Alright then, I also know some MT-fancy clients)

Hermann, as I said earlier, I'm aware of such 'deliberate' clients' behavior and have encountered a dozen of individuals who tried to prove their MT to be non-MT in vain... What a man can do to save a penny, I wonder?

Yet if a client really wants (or thinks he really wants) 'a slightly translated/ edited' version ('just to get the idea') then I can do my own consolidated MT, provided I can have the original. Sometimes it saves about 1/3rd of the time and clients are usually thrilled that 'MT version' is pretty good for some 5-25% discount. Frankly speaking I don't enjoy it for it often makes me feel numb. But as far as it's a deliberate mutual deal I feel neither bitter shame, nor great pride because I try to understand them. So everyone gets what he deserves)

As for me, I think I would never ask for MT or amy semi/ automatic processing. At least now I think so. For what it's worth I feel pity for those who abuse or blindly accept MT as granted, but it's their choice after all.

I'm not afraid because I don't do MT when it's not asked for.
I'm not afraid of MT because I reject it if there's no original.
I'm not afraid of doing MT when the client doesn't oversimplify it too much.

Cheers

[Edited at 2010-05-08 19:14 GMT]


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:37
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not scary May 8, 2010

A few weeks ago I was handed a text done with MT and it almost sounded OK, but detailed investigation with the original showed that some parts where as hilarious as always - nonetheless the customer insisted and I corrected the whole thing - paid by the hour !! ( and that just abouts amounts to the same as a full translation), if MT improves he will safe some money, but until then I won't accept any MT translation on a word rate...

If you can't beat them.. (well, they are paying clients after all)
or something with lemons ... you know the drill...

Greetings,
Ed


 

xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 08:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Scary? May 8, 2010

Hermann wrote:
Translation of Machine Translation – how scary is that?


One man's 'fear' is another man's business opportunity.

MediaMatrix


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:37
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ugh May 8, 2010

Hermann wrote:

I am curious to know whether others have noticed a trend in enquiries for the translation of documents which were machine-translated from another language into English (without putting my finger on the map) or have seen Kudoz questions of that ilk. In the latter case, the asker being blissfully unaware of the situation.


It happened to me.
They've sent me a part of the text and it seemed fine, so I agreed to do it. When it finally arrived, most of it was machine translated .The original was also sent, so I first thought of it as a trick to get translation paying proofreading rates. Then I found out they actually do that on a regular basis and call it 'drafts'. I had to retranslate whatever I could within the tight deadline and it was an awful experience. Most of it made no sense, I don't understand why people accept this type of 'proofreading', how certain agencies seem to think this is ok and does not compromise the final outcome (just because it 'sounds' human doesn't mean that it is accurate).

This was on a Friday night, so I couldn't contact the agency to say I didn't wanna do it. Very sly. I did tell them this is unnaceptable and I'll never do this again.

I don't think that's what the clients are paying for.


 
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