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Poll: Have you done a translation of a language you can't speak with an automatic translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:25
SITE STAFF
Nov 29, 2017

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you done a translation of a language you can't speak with an automatic translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by Susana E. Cano Méndez. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Nov 29, 2017

But, once upon a time, someone asked me to translate a shortish text (roughly 500 words) from Italian to English, as their regular translators were not available. Despite my misgivings I grudgingly agreed, although I don't recall using any CAT on it.
Although my knowledge of Italian is limited, I managed to turn out what I thought was a reasonable effort, only consulting the dictionary three or four times. I got a friend to check it before handing it in and in general I had done a good job except for one glaring mistake. It was about fruit, and I'd assumed that "melo" must mean "melon", so didn't even bother looking it up, but it turns out doesn't (it's an apple tree). I've never been asked to do it again and if I were,I'd probably refuse.
Nor would I recommend ever translating from a language you don't already have a reasonable command of, with or without "automatic translators".


 

Roni_S  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 01:25
Slovak to English
Yes Nov 29, 2017

I sometimes use Google Translate to translate product reviews when I'm thinking of buying something and can't find much information in English. I don't always buy the product, but the translations never fail to make me laugh out loud. But I can't see how you could translate from a language you don't know.

[Edited at 2017-11-29 08:51 GMT]


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes--on Facebook Nov 29, 2017

I use it on Facebook for friends who post in Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, etc. Having been involved in the development of machine translation back in the day, I'm surprised to find that I often get the gist of what's going on.

From Day 1, I have always maintained that the best use of machine translation is to just get a rough idea of what the source text is about.


 

Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 01:25
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
yes Nov 29, 2017

As an English > German game translator, I sometimes translate texts that were originally written in an Asian language (Japanese, Korean or Chinese) and then translated into English. If my English source is unclear, I check the original text in Google Translate to try to make sense of it.

[Edited at 2017-11-29 10:32 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:25
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, for private use Nov 29, 2017

Now and then a prospect is careless, paying attention to my surname, rather than to my language pair. So they write me in German or in Polish, of which I don't understand enough for anything. If they use either "ubersetzen" or "tlumaczenie", I know it means business. In such cases, I use MT to find out what it's all about.

For DE I use Google Translate; for PL I use Poltran.

The funniest event so far was someone from Krakow (my parents' birthplace) who needed me to translate EN-PT 180 "towels" (sic!), according to the automatic translation. Perhaps there was some typo in PL too.


 

Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:25
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, for private use Nov 29, 2017

Hello all,

Thank you for answering to my poll.

I have asked this question because most of us know automatic translators that can improve our productivity in the pairs we work in. But lately I have been thinking about what prevents people from taking a job in a language they don't speak at all and nevertheless do an automatic translation, which, duly revised (by whom?) may issue an acceptable text. My answer is --ethics, of course.

I think I have spotted 2-3 students that have done this in the online courses I teach every year. With a not-so-bad automatic translator (everyone know at least a couple of them), someone that can't speak nor read English, for instance, could get a short diploma and some jobs in the future.

What are your thoughts? Can some of the people that have answered «Yes, for a client» comment a bit (I have no hopes)?


 

Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:25
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Yes on Facebook + 1 Nov 29, 2017

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I use it on Facebook for friends who post in Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Finnish, Norwegian, etc. Having been involved in the development of machine translation back in the day, I'm surprised to find that I often get the gist of what's going on.

From Day 1, I have always maintained that the best use of machine translation is to just get a rough idea of what the source text is about.


Facebook automatically translates posts written in languages which I have not indicated that I speak without any intervention on my part.

I agree with Muriel that it is good for getting a gist of what the text is about, but at times it does contain some rather strangely worded phrases and what appear to be mistranslations so I wouldn't use for professional purposes.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:25
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
No, but... Nov 29, 2017

When I joined ProZ in 2000, the membership was much lower and many languages were represented poorly or not at all. Many KudoZ askers seemed to have no idea how to use search engines or online dictionaries, so by doing so myself I was able to find the answer. This explains why I have such a ridiculous number of language pairs in my KudoZ profile. I would not attempt questions in many of them these days.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, for private use Nov 29, 2017

Once professionally, though not exactly to translate: I had a German sentence in a French text I was translating into Portuguese, my instructions were to keep it in German but I needed to know what it meant…

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Language groups Nov 29, 2017

Susana E. Cano Méndez wrote:

What are your thoughts? Can some of the people that have answered «Yes, for a client» comment a bit (I have no hopes)?


I've always considered myself "language oriented" and the one time I agreed to translate from Italian, which is not one of my languages, I did so because I already have a decent command of French and my Spanish is almost bilingual level (or so I'm told) and I perceive the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese, anyway) as "primos hermanos", in other words, closely enough related to be able to translate a not-too-complex text from Italian or Portuguese into my native English simply with the use of a dictionary, as long as there is someone available to check the draft before delivery.
Having said that, I wouldn't recommend it to people who don't already have a flair or feeling for languages.

Some Slavonic languages enjoy a certain degree of mutual intelligibility as well... for example Russian and Ukrainian.

PS: One of my clients sometimes sends me software strings to translate from Spanish, and occasionally some of them have been left in Italian, French or Portuguese. When I am able, I usually just translate them with the help of online dictionaries or whatever, but I send a reminder to the client that I'm supposed to only be their Spanish translator (they do have translators for their other source languages, but when the meaning/translation is clear, I don't bother with the rigmarole of sending it back untranslated). It's worked out OK for us so far…



[Edited at 2017-11-29 10:58 GMT]

PPS: Speak of the devil! I've just received some software strings to translate and they include some Italian phrases, but they are pretty basic and some of them are just postal addresses, so I'll just go ahead and translate them myself without any fuss:

Capitale Sociale Euro 1.000.000,00 i.v.
Consegnare a
Data Consegna:
Data
Descrizione
...


[Edited at 2017-11-29 11:30 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Um, no Nov 29, 2017

I never speak with automatic translators. Silly poll.

icon_biggrin.gif


 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:25
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
yes - personal use Nov 29, 2017

One of my clients is from Finland and some of the automatic replies from the client and their bookkeeper are in Finnish.
Also, this client sometimes refers to a previous project by going back to the email string from that project to ask me a question. I use automatic translation to find out what the date (the month is written out in full) of the previous message was, so that I can find back the files of that project.

And then there are the comments from Hungarian, Norwegian and other friends on facebook, which I will occasionally pull through an automatic translator.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Not professionally Nov 29, 2017

I wouldn't do that for a professional assignment. However my daughter was choreographing a dance to an Italian song recently, and she wanted to know the gist of the lyrics. A combination of Google, a dictionary and some common sense gave us the basic idea.

 

Judith Anne Smith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:25
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


No, but Nov 29, 2017

I once helped my friend, a Spanish voiceover, to make sense of a script he was given that was a bad translation from Turkish to Spanish. I took one look at it and knew it was an automatic translation. I finally asked for the original Turkish and fed it through machine translation into English to compare the two and help me figure out what he was supposed to record in Spanish.

 
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