The Future of Google Translate?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:18
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 2, 2010

Perhaps this is a stupid thought, but something occurred to me:

If Google translates based on statistical matches using bilingual texts that are submitted and found on-line (and then added to its servers) and if more and more documents, websites, patents, etc. are being automatically (and intentionally) translated by Google and made available on-line and then indexed by Google, will these incorrect MT translations subsequently become part of Google's analysis to the point where the machine-translated matches (now outnumbering the human-translated bi-lingual texts) take statistical priority over the human-translated texts, thereby perpetuating inaccurate translations rather than improving them, possible rendering the system unusable over time? Garbage in, garbage out.

Does this make any sense?


[Edited at 2010-12-02 18:22 GMT]


 

R.C. (X)
Local time: 14:18
English to Italian
+ ...
IT DOES. Dec 2, 2010

It does indeed. I would like to think about it for a while, I hope I come back to you.
Very intriguing.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:18
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes :-( Dec 2, 2010

If this isn't the case yet, it won't take long, at least in some language pairs. The problem is not so much with Google itself or with MT as with some common human translation errors. On Internet, dabblers outnumber professionals by a very large factor, so it is very easy for any given difficult word or expression to be translated erroneusly more often than not. It is especially true of, for example, buzzwords from the business jargon, famous quotations, movie titles, etc. - once a wrong version has gone out to the wide public, there is virtually no way back, and Google only perpetuates it and spreads it from one country to another.

 

David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
I tend to agree... Dec 2, 2010

though I am admittedly pretty ignorant as to how Google or any MT algorithm actually works.

You might generate more responses by moving this to the Software and Internet / Machine Translation (MT) forum.


 

AndersonT  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2010)
German to English
Probably not Dec 2, 2010

I'm pretty sure that they use some sort of algorithm determining a "quality score".

Google page rank has become quite efficient if you think of it, and I'm pretty sure they use similar scoring methods, say for example a multi-national corporation will most likely have pretty polished stuff on their multi-lingual website whereas some twitter tweets are hardly reliable at all.

However, if you think big as in really really big, what if their translations become so good that even multi-national corporations use them on their multi-lingual sites because there are only marginal errors left, then the question will even be will Google start to determine how we use languageicon_wink.gif

After all, applied language is constantly morphing and very dynamic even in rather short periods of time. Just listen to a couple of youngsters these days, I can hardly keep up, haha.

I think the magic lies in the numbers. If you have a solid "ranking" algorithm in place, and it would surely be no problem to not only parse once, but also parse for, detect and implement human revisions as they occur, e.g. the crawler recognizes one if it's own translations on a highly ranked site and detects a change/revision after a while, then hypothetically the quality should improve over time rather than decline.

Not sure if Google translate will become utter garbage or the final replacement of human translators, it sure is interesting to watch tho.

[Edited at 2010-12-02 23:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-12-02 23:20 GMT]


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
French to English
If you were Google Dec 2, 2010

what would you do?

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

If Google translates based on statistical matches using bilingual texts that are submitted and found on-line (and then added to its servers) and if more and more documents, websites, patents, etc. are being automatically (and intentionally) translated by Google and made available on-line and then indexed by Google,...


I'd stop there. I wouldn't add dynamically translated content, i.e. content generated in real time, temporarily, using my servers as the origin (which is what GT does for automatic website translation, I believe), back into my own servers for subsequent re-use. Otherwise, yes, your version of events would be correct and nothing would ever improve (or not by much). If I were google, I would only add static matched content and the stuff that humans actually submit to my servers for future re-use.

There again, they are the ones with the spectacularly successful business model, not me.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 19:18
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My freedom and client's freedom Dec 2, 2010

Google MT is not much reliable among translators but many clients use it to solve problem quickly e.g. translate and recheck my mistake being submitted in my jobs to them. I was surprised with its new application.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:18
German to Spanish
I think the know what they do Dec 3, 2010

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

Google MT is not much reliable among translators but many clients use it to solve problem quickly e.g. translate and recheck my mistake being submitted in my jobs to them. I was surprised with its new application.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


There are a lot of sites and glossaries from official organisations to make very defined and "clean" TMs.
And sites like linguee can/could be also integrated (API) to be used into CATs. It is just a question of time, and of course the last bastion will be poetryicon_wink.gif

Just a OT remark: Sometimes I try to understand some Thai conversations in internet and use Google for it... Well, no way!icon_wink.gif


Regards


 

markuslebt
Local time: 14:18
English to German
+ ...
google is amazing but can´t replace a translator anytime soon Dec 3, 2010

i´ve been using google translator to learn hebrew for a couple of months now, and have to say I am really impressed how far the technology is advanced. It´s great for checking things out really quickly, but will never be able to replace a good translator. Especially with longer phrases, slang expressions etc. the machine cannot replace human competence. and if theres 1 mistake in a sentence or a whole handful, it is still wrong and it takes time to fix it.. sometimes more time than to do it yourself from scratch.

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:18
Member (2008)
French to English
MT will never replace human translators Dec 4, 2010

For a very simple reason.

As with all technology, MT is simply a tool that can be improved upon. Always.

And professional translators are the ones best placed to improve upon it. So MT is a tool that we cannot ignore but if we stay up to date with MT developments and use them to the best advantage we will always be one step ahead.

This is exactly what has happened in other fields of technology.

Take machining, for example (which is my background). I watched in the 1980's and 1990's as machining technology became more and more automated. The theory was promoted that it would finally become fully automated, eliminating the need for humans at all. Metal in at the loading dock, finished parts out the other door, and only automation in between, they said.

What actually happened? Shops that stayed abreast of technology and made the best use of it produced more with their existing manpower and did it profitably. Shops that didn't keep up with the technology, trying to keep going the old way, had a greater and greater struggle. Many disappeared, but some found market niches where technology wasn't needed, remaining small specialists.

The lesson is - keep abreast of the technology, use it to the best advantage, and stay one step ahead of those who don't. Most (virtually all) end users fall into the latter category, simply because its not their core business.

What we are seeing with GT, I believe, is the barrier between languages is breaking down. This doesn't mean that GT translations are perfect or even acceptable, but it does mean that people on the other side of the language divide now have access to languages where there was simply no access at all before. I think that access will result in more human translation work, not less, as more opportunities across the language barrier results in more frequent need for accurate translations.

As for quality of translation, GT is rather like a Wiki in the sense that there is widespread input, but without the self-correcting mechanism of a wiki (such as Wikipedia) where users can make corrections. How many people correct an incorrect GT translation? Without that feedback, GT is bound to institutionalize common errors.

[Edited at 2010-12-04 01:48 GMT]


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 14:18
Swedish to English
Can be useful... Dec 5, 2010

If you know what you are doing.
A greater problem for translators is perhaps the customer 'who can english good' and also doubtful translations used in 'company speak', so to speak.
Google translate has improved and no doubt will continue to do so.


 


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