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Ethical dilemma about the contests
Thread poster: Katalin Horváth McClure

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sep 11, 2009

Let's imagine the following scenario:

I am interested in what sort of source texts are out there for the contest. I check and I see many of them are in languages I do not understand. So, driven by my curiosity, I pump them into a machine translation tool, and translate them into a language I understand, let's say English, to see what they are about.
Some of the source texts present more of a challenge to the MT machine than others: some of the content is lost or unclear. However, I find one text, (let's say it is in Zulu) that seems to be clear as to the content, the phrasing, the structure, even the intended comedy comes through quite well in the machine translated English text.
I am tempted to translate this text into my native language (let's say Hungarian), because I am confident I understand what it is about, and I believe my writing skills in Hungarian give me a chance to do a good job, and it is an interesting text. In addition, even though there are some Zulu-Hungarian translators here on ProZ, they usually do not participate in contests, some of them are not even native in Hungarian, so again, more chance for me to win.

So, should I go ahead and translate the Zulu text into Hungarian (via another language and an MT tool) and enter the contest? Once again, I do not speak, read or write Zulu, and obviously do not work in the Zulu-Hungarian pair.

I am not asking whether it is possible technically - I know it is, all I need to do is mark that language as one of my "interest" languages, it does not even have to be displayed in my profile, and voila, I can submit a translation for the contest. Again, it is not required for contest participants to have the given language pair as one of their working pairs.

The ethical dilemma is:
- If I submit my "translation", would that offend the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators?
- What if I win? Am I taking away an opportunity from the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators that actually work in that pair to get more exposure (and get more jobs)?
- What if I don't win, but my submission helps others to win: due to the few number of submissions, my submission makes it possible for the contest to meet the minimum number of entries required to move to the voting level? Without it, due to lack of submissions, the other contestants would not have a chance to win at all. On the other hand, it may help a substandard entry to win, as there is always a winner, if there are enough entries.

I am interested in what others think about this.

Should I submit my translation?

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-09-11 17:24 GMT]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:05
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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No chance Sep 11, 2009

What I have seen the texts for this years contest are highly complex and IMO do not bend to machine translation at all. But if you manage to write a translation that happens to be better than those from other contenders why shouldn't you win?
The jury will decide.
Regards
Heinrich


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
You can't Sep 11, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

The ethical dilemma is:
- If I submit my "translation", would that offend the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators?
- What if I win? Am I taking away an opportunity from the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators that actually work in that pair to get more exposure (and get more jobs)?
- What if I don't win, but my submission helps others to win: due to the few number of submissions, my submission makes it possible for the contest to meet the minimum number of entries required to move to the voting level? Without it, due to lack of submissions, the other contestants would not have a chance to win at all. On the other hand, it may help a substandard entry to win, as there is always a winner, if there are enough entries.

I am interested in what others think about this.

Should I submit my translation?

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-09-11 17:24 GMT]


As far as I know there is a time interval about the reported languages.
That means if you add this Zulu pair to your profile you won't be able to submit your translation.

The other side of the dilemma; If yould have been reported this pair long time ago before the contest then that means you already put yourself out of all ethical things. In this case thinking about the ethical rules "to submit or not to submit" automatically would not mean anything for such person who already lied to the community.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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I have thought of this myself Sep 11, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
So, should I go ahead and translate the Zulu text into Hungarian (via another language and an MT tool) and enter the contest? Once again, I do not speak, read or write Zulu, and obviously do not work in the Zulu-Hungarian pair.


I see no ethical dilemma here. We are judged on the target text, after all.

However, you would only be able to do this if Zulu is one of the languages listed in your profile, and if you add it only to enter the contest, then you'd not be honest (unless this type of action is specifically allowed by the contest arranger).

The ethical dilemma is:
1. If I submit my "translation", would that offend the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators?
2. What if I win? Am I taking away an opportunity from the genuine Zulu-Hungarian translators that actually work in that pair to get more exposure (and get more jobs)?
3. What if I don't win, but my submission helps others to win: due to the few number of submissions, my submission makes it possible for the contest to meet the minimum number of entries required to move to the voting level?


1. Some people feel offended for the littlest things. I would not worry about this.
2. To me, the contest is not about getting more jobs. Sure, an additional icon and piece of text is added to your profile, but I doubt if it brings in a whole lot more work.
3. No-one is forced to vote, so if people vote, itis because they believe the text is worth voting on.

So, on all three counts, I think your concerns are nothing to worry about.

I would not mind entering in language combinations that I don't speak or even understand, and use MT to help me along, but it has to be specifically allowed for me to do it. An alternative arrangement may be one in which ProZ.com enables users to indicate that they are entering a language combination using MT.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The nature of the texts in the contest Sep 11, 2009

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
What I have seen the texts for this years contest are highly complex and IMO do not bend to machine translation at all.


There are at least 5 different free webbased machine translation systems available in the major languages plus English. One can also research phrases using Google's search engine. And I wonder whether it is possible that a beautifully written yet slightly inaccurate text may be judged higher than one that is technically correct but dry and unimaginitive. It would be an interesting thing to see...




[Edited at 2009-09-11 18:08 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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TOPIC STARTER
To Samuel Sep 11, 2009

However, you would only be able to do this if Zulu is one of the languages listed in your profile,


No, this is not correct. See the bold face type in my original posting.

and if you add it only to enter the contest, then you'd not be honest (unless this type of action is specifically allowed by the contest arranger).


There is nothing that forbids adding a language just for the contest. When you add a language of interest, there is no indication of why you are adding it.

You used the word "honest", could you elaborate on what you mean by "you'd not be honest" while in the previous paragraph you said "I see no ethical dilemma here. We are judged on the target text, after all."

Being honest or not is an ethical question, I think.

Katalin


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Using loopholes Sep 11, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
There is nothing that forbids adding a language just for the contest. When you add a language of interest, there is no indication of why you are adding it.


True, but why would the contest arranger place that limitation on contest entries in the first place, if it can be bypassed so easily? I think that adding a language just to bypass this restriction is the same as making use of a loophole.

You used the word "honest", could you elaborate on what you mean by "you'd not be honest" while in the previous paragraph you said "I see no ethical dilemma here. We are judged on the target text, after all."


There is no inconstency in what I wrote. Allow me to explain:

I don't see any problem with using MT to aid translation from a language that we do not speak. I think it can be beneficial, in fact, or sobering, perhaps, to see what comes from such efforts. I see no ethical problem with entering a translation contest in a language combination that is not one of your combinations. But... I do think that the restrictions on entering are there for a reason, and that reason may be to prevent people from entering in languages that they do not speak or understand. I am reasonably certain that the contest arranger would object if we were to use the loophole you describe above, so doing so would be dishonest.



[Edited at 2009-09-11 18:22 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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OT: Where do you... Sep 11, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
I am not asking whether it is possible technically - I know it is, all I need to do is mark that language as one of my "interest" languages, it does not even have to be displayed in my profile, and voila, I can submit a translation for the contest. Again, it is not required for contest participants to have the given language pair as one of their working pairs.


A quick question: where does one add or set working and interest languages? I can't find it anywhere on my profile updating page.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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Samuel, there are no restrictions Sep 11, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

I do think that the restrictions on entering are there for a reason, and that reason may be to prevent people from entering in languages that they do not speak or understand.


Samuel, the point is, there are no restrictions.

From the Contest FAQ:
9 - Can I submit an entry in any language combination declared in my profile?

Yes. You can enter the contest in any of the working or interest languages declared in your profile.


Now, languages of interest are not really "declared" in the profile, in a sense that nobody can see them, they are not displayed. Yes, you enter them at the same place where you enter your working languages, but then you make them invisible - that's how you "declare" a language of interest.

Katalin


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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TOPIC STARTER
How to declare languages of interest Sep 11, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

A quick question: where does one add or set working and interest languages? I can't find it anywhere on my profile updating page.


I think the easiest way is to go to your profile, click on Edit languages (under the list under your picture), then add the new pair.
Then, in the Profile updater, in the Languages section where it lists the pairs and rates, click on the red "[Edit]" text on the right end of the row. The screen will refresh, and under the table there will be radio buttons displayed to mark the pair a working or interest pair.
If you declare a pair as Interest, it would not show up on your profile, you would not get job notifications, etc.

Katalin

[Edited at 2009-09-11 18:51 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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I don't see it... Sep 11, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
A quick question: where does one add or set working and interest languages? I can't find it anywhere on my profile updating page.

Go to your profile, click on Edit languages (under the list under your picture), then add the new pair.


Doing that brings me to this page:
http://www.proz.com/settings/languages?eid_s=1429#pairs
It says there "Enter up to 3 language pairs in which you work...". I don't see any other way to add languages there. Perhaps the option is simply not available to me.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:05
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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Are you sure it is not there, Samuel? Sep 12, 2009

Right there, where you see "Enter up to 3 language pairs in which you work...", you should see your current language pairs with their rates. Brownish background, each language pair is separated by a thin white line. Do you see that?
If yes, scroll down a bit, under this table you should see a different color area, more greyish, and it says: Add new language pair: »

Do you see that?
There, you select and add your new pair. You have to use the Save button at the very bottom of this long screen, so scroll down.
Then, this new pair will appear in the table above.
Click on the red "[Edit]" text on the right side of the row of that new pair.
The screen will refresh, and under the table there will be radio buttons displayed to mark the pair a working or interest pair.
Click on the interest button, and save your settings.

Does it work?
Katalin


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Would you do it in a real job? Sep 12, 2009

In my opinion the question is whether you would do this in a real translation job. I mean using machine translation to translate an unknown language into English and trust that this text is good enough for a translation from English into your language.

Would you do that? I reckon you would not. So, how come you feel you can do it in a translation contest?


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:05
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
If you could win the contest you would deserve all the jobs in that pair Sep 12, 2009

The best translations I've ever read are so called double translations. Often poets translate poems from languages they never speak. They just have the word-for-word translation done by another translator, and create pieces of art in their language. So this practice is not something new. In your case you'd just replace the word-for-word translation with a machine translation. And if after that you could win the contest, than you'd really deserve all the jobs in that pair.

Unlike other contests, this contest is completely client oriented. In other words, it is conducted to attract clients rather than to check the skills of translators. And clients don't really care how you have translated, or even who has translated. What they need is a good translation. If you can deliver high quality translations, it doesn't really matter how you have done them. What matters is your ability to use all the resources at hand. For example, you wouldn't think it unfair if someone won the contest because s/he has better dictionaries and reference materials, which have nothing to do with translator's skills. Or who cares if you have your translations edited. You show what you can do, and not how you do it. So there's no ethical dilemma, if you can do it better, than you do it better, and if you do it batter, than you're the one who should win the contest and all the jobs that may follow.

The only thing is: why on earth do you need it? The most you can expect in case of winning would be getting jobs in that pair. But you don't really want to get jobs in that pair, do you? I think the site doesn't need to set any restrictions, because the question "why am I doing this" in itself is a natural restriction that each translator asks himself/herself before entering the contest, and nobody would waste his/her time just for nothing.

[Edited at 2009-09-12 09:30 GMT]


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