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Poll: Do you feel threatened by machine translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:08
SITE STAFF
May 4, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you feel threatened by machine translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Katja Schoone. View the poll results »



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Max Deryagin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:08
Member (2013)
English to Russian
No, not at all May 4, 2015

Subtitling involves condensation of your translations in order to fit into the reading speed and line length allocated. To my knowledge, no MT tool can do that at this point in time, and I'm not really sure if it's possible at all.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:08
Member (2006)
German to English
No May 4, 2015

not at the moment, and when I get to see the results of some of the translations that result from them, then I hope that that will never happen.
I have been asked to review MT´s in the past, and it would have been cheaper to translate from scratch...


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 15:08
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, not really (yet)... May 4, 2015

As I said the last time this same question was asked (November 2014) this is probably one of the very few poll questions that should be asked again! So, please, ask me again in 2 or 3 years time....

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:08
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No May 4, 2015

I've been using machine translation for at least 30% of my work without interruption since 1980. There's probably no one still around and still working who has used it longer.

I still do post-editing about 30% of the time. I should point out that the client pays very good translation rates; their rate for MT is higher than most agencies pay for translating from scratch.

I recently did an 80-page document, and I was pleased to see that I could leave many sentences untouched. And I am *very* picky. It just happened to be a good text for the machine to do. When problems did come up, they were still frustrating and infuriating, but I could never have met my deadline without it. On the other hand, more often than not, even though the system has been in development for nearly 40 years, there are documents that make me feel I could do better without its help.

On the other hand, and this goes for all translation aids, I do much better translating when I don't look at the screen. I read one sentence at a time and close my eyes. I find that my typing is more accurate and I'm able to get deeper into the meaning of the text and find the words I'm looking for if there's nothing stimulating me on the screen. (I just now typed this whole paragraph with my eyes closed, and there were no typos. The minute I open my eyes and look at the screen, I start slowing down and making typos.) Given this peculiar quirk that I have, I would prefer to work with no translation aids of any kind - as long as people continue to pay me.

I'm more afraid of bean-counting translation agencies that try to force rates down and insist on reductions for matches than I am of machine translation.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:08
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Not by MT itself, but ... May 4, 2015

I do feel somewhat "threatened" by the attitude of non-linguists to MT. I mean that people say and, I suppose think, things like "You're a translator? But isn't that all done by computers nowadays"?
It's unsettling because much MT produces such lamentable and even laughable results.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:08
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No May 4, 2015

Michael Harris wrote:

not at the moment, and when I get to see the results of some of the translations that result from them, then I hope that that will never happen.
I have been asked to review MT´s in the past, and it would have been cheaper to translate from scratch...


Only if MT improves by 500% minimum is there a chance that it might threated certain fields. However, there are several fields that MT cannot even get close to threatening.


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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:08
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Jenny May 4, 2015

MT is changing the way we work. My CAT is set to check for MT translations and I sometimes accept them and revise them as I go (mostly MT is good with phrases like "the house is blue"), often they are useless and sometimes I get a good idea or two from the results (a target words I haven't thought of). This speeds up the way we work and that is the way the market is going. Rates are not increasing (and haven't really for some 20 years), but our productivity has increased.

In the hands of a skilled translator, it's a useful tool in the translating process.

The mistake that non-linguists are making is to present us with a completely MT text and tell us to clean it. I find this is impossible to do without re-translating the text directly from the original and it saves me no time whatsoever. In fact it results in a much worse translation.


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Andrea Munhoz  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:08
Portuguese to English
+ ...
No May 4, 2015

Max Deryagin wrote:

Subtitling involves condensation of your translations in order to fit into the reading speed and line length allocated. To my knowledge, no MT tool can do that at this point in time, and I'm not really sure if it's possible at all.


Same here.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Precisely May 4, 2015

Not by MT, but as Jenny Forbes says,

I do feel somewhat "threatened" by the attitude of non-linguists to MT. I mean that people say and, I suppose think, things like "You're a translator? But isn't that all done by computers nowadays"?
It's unsettling because much MT produces such lamentable and even laughable results.


I specialise in 'the message, not just the words', and can quote countless examples where a text has to be more or less rewritten, not just translated word for word. It is far too complicated for machines and algorithms.

I do not use the MT options with my CAT - and I have promised several of my clients not to!

The problem is that people who do not work with languages are often unaware of the degree of difference and the cultural approach right down to the way people think.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:08
Russian to English
+ ...
Not at all May 4, 2015

I mean that people say and, I suppose think, things like "You're a translator? But isn't that all done by computers nowadays"?

Never heard it exactly this way, but often heard a condescending assumption translators aren't paid well. Interestingly enough, this attitude changed abruptly once I started saying I am a technical translator instead of simply "a translator". The usual reaction now is more like "Wow, you mean you have to know all that technical stuff in addition to the language?"


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Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:08
Italian to German
+ ...
Not at all May 4, 2015

No, I have to admit I don't feel threatened at all.

I do have some experience with Post Editing of MT as some clients of mine tried to get into this matter. I gave it a chance, curios about the financial potential and about the capabilities of MT. All in all, after three frustrating weeks with laughable and more than unsatisfying results, I told them it will be faster and better for all parties involved if I just wrote the translation myself instead of trying to correct / "post-edit" the machine's outcome...

So all in all - I am not worried, because no machine will ever be able to replace the work of a real professional.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:08
Spanish to English
+ ...
It has actually been beneficial May 4, 2015

Some game developers had this brilliant idea of adding tons of translations of their game - supplied by Señor Google. The fans hated it. So the developers then came to me, asking for help ^_^

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
The customer is always right May 4, 2015

Triston Goodwin wrote:

Some game developers had this brilliant idea of adding tons of translations of their game - supplied by Señor Google. The fans hated it. So the developers then came to me, asking for help ^_^



...or, in this case, the fans.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Threatening? Nope May 4, 2015

I recently attended a keynote speech at the opening of a translators' symposium in Kansas City, MO. The presenter mentioned MT. Since the speech was in a question-friendly format, some of us asked questions throughout.

When the speaker mentioned MT, a gentleman to my left expressed his fear about MT and other technologies that in 5-10 years (by his fear-fueled calculation) would be a very serious threat to us translators.

I chimed in with facts: I had spent 10 months postediting MT-generated translations. I enjoyed the process because I was in the driver's seat all the time, deciding which segments to use and which to discard, and editing what was editable, and rewriting what needed rewriting.

In the end, it didn't matter. This gentleman's irrational fear of MT and associated technologies couldn't handle facts. I find that more terrifying: irrational behavior fueled by fear makes us behave like lobotomized morons.


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