Machine translation: Cause or solution of all evils?

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Catherine De Crignis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:35
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Not convinced Jan 17, 2016

"The ProZ.com community has always been at the forefront of technological developments in the translation profession."

=> I'm not at all denying the social role of ProZ in the translation communities, in terms of exchange facilitation, but talking of "[being] at the forefront of technological developments", I simply fail to get the point altogether.


"The ProZ.com community can play a vital role in sustaining an informed debate on the impact of MT on professional translators"

=> OK, fair enough.


"and in providing them with valuable training opportunities in this area."

=> Now I would really like to know more about these training opportunities! I hope the author does not means "training to edit MT nonsense".
Of course I'm sure a high-flying academic would not be so mistaken as to believing that we translators (as a whole) can actually gain from MT.
Those semi-professional and sometimes professional translators who already churn out low quality work day in day out will quite simply find themselves out of work. As for the others, I personally don't believe their main concern is the rise of MT.

[Edited at 2016-01-17 05:21 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:35
Russian to English
+ ...
Neither cause nor solution, nothing. MT is nothing of Jan 17, 2016

importance since it cannot compete with professional translation, and it never will.

So, let it be, just for fun or entertainment. Any misconceptions about it, though, should be clarified so laymen and laywomen, or just laypeople don't fall in awe of it.
It is basically nothing of importance in terms of professional translation.
I think it is better that since people realize it sooner than later, since any systems based on false premises are doomed to collapse sooner or later.

[Edited at 2016-01-17 08:23 GMT]


 

Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 06:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
No translation method and techniques Jan 18, 2016

Catherine De Crignis wrote:

"The ProZ.com community has always been at the forefront of technological developments in the translation profession."

=> I'm not at all denying the social role of ProZ in the translation communities, in terms of exchange facilitation, but talking of "[being] at the forefront of technological developments", I simply fail to get the point altogether.


"The ProZ.com community can play a vital role in sustaining an informed debate on the impact of MT on professional translators"

=> OK, fair enough.


"and in providing them with valuable training opportunities in this area."

=> Now I would really like to know more about these training opportunities! I hope the author does not means "training to edit MT nonsense".
Of course I'm sure a high-flying academic would not be so mistaken as to believing that we translators (as a whole) can actually gain from MT.
Those semi-professional and sometimes professional translators who already churn out low quality work day in day out will quite simply find themselves out of work. As for the others, I personally don't believe their main concern is the rise of MT.

[Edited at 2016-01-17 05:21 GMT]


Translation machine translates source text without any translation method and technique. No text analyses, no content analyses. It is the reason why machine translation is always worse than human translator with academic background in translation.

HOWEVER, in fact, we see with our own eyes, most of market do not care with scientific approach that we learn for 4-6 years. In fact, those who acquire the greatest market share is IT persons, not translators. Check google and LinkedIn. You will immediately see that most of "translation agency" owners and managers are not translators. They are fake. I was heard a real story that a certain "translation" agency believes that "the" in English should be translated "ini" in Indonesia. So, each time its editors meets "the", they instruct translation to translated with "ini". Stupid... I mean... idiot.

The problem is: the dominant persons and entities in translation industry are not translators or people with translation background. Ironically, translation market believes in them. How can we change this situation?

[Edited at 2016-01-18 07:36 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:35
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I was hoping that MT would be a pesticide for incompetent amateurs Jan 18, 2016

As Dani commented, too many translation agencies are run by businesspeople who know next to nothing about translation itself, hence for whom the cheapest translation is the most profitable option.

These same businesspeople now and then hire me (at my standard rates) to redo ostensibly cheap translation work, as their end-client rightfully refused to pay for that @#$%&.

This gave me the chance to see exactly what cheap translation looks like. A few samples led me to realize that the quality of translation done at half my standard rate is roughly equivalent to the output one gets from Google Translate for free! The flaws differ in their nature, however the overall quality is similar.

Every time a prospect tried to impose half my rates or less upon me, I advised them to use GT. Being it a free service, that would increase their profits if the end-client were either gullible or ignorant enough to pay for it. Otherwise, if that were rejected, they'd have more funds left to afford a pro to do it comme il faut. Of course, I never heard from any of these again.

However it made me wonder: Why do these bottom feeders obdurately insist in forcing low rates down professional translators' throats, when they can use GT to obtain a similar output?

Though I may be wrong, I bet all my chips on BLAME. If they use free MT and their deliverables are bad, they will be blamed. On the other hand, if they grossly underpay an amateur, they can advocate for their good faith with "We hired a native speaker of XX-ese, born and living in XX-land, who presented good credentials," and save face while paying what it's worth for a pro to redo it from scratch.

So I expected that free online machine translation would rid the marketplace from sesquilinguals who wing at translation for peanuts. So far, it didn't.

Then PEMT came up. Those translation-unsavvy businesspeople thought it would be a midway solution for increasing profits. At least they would have someone to blame, the PEMTor!

Some translation pros fell for it, enjoying some relief from a lowered keyboard-pounding demand... however at a much lower pay as well. Many sesquilinguals fell in love with PEMT: they'd just have to fix the grammar/some wording in the target language; they'd be spared from translating, the very part where they were guessing/improvising. After all, the ultimate goal was only to decoy free MT as human translation.

I had a large technical translation assignment once. The agency (innocent, in this case) was kind enough to relay some similar translations the end-client had provided as reference. I didn't have to read an entire page to realize that it had been PEMTed. Though the grammar and spelling were correct, I didn't need the source text, my industrial engineering background was enough to see that many things there had been grossly misinterpreted; in fact, it often said exactly the opposite of what it should.

And these were instruction manuals for miscellaneous parts of an offshore oil platform! Now I know how oil spillage "accidents" happen. All I can do is to pray and hope that all the operators there are sufficiently trained and experienced so they will NEVER read these PEMTed manuals.

I try to equate machine translation with drinking water. After having survived for a while stranded in the desert, anyone will drink from a puddle in an oasis without a second thought on whether that water is potable. Though the tap water in most civilized cities is drinkable, bottled drinking water still sells a lot. Machine translation would be the equivalent of drinking from a river or a lake. PEMT would correspond to passing that water through a filter (professional translator) or sifting it through a sock (sesquilinguals).

Here in Brazil, now and then I see mineral water imported from France and Italy on supermarket shelves. They cost about 10x as much as our domestic brands, most of which are very good. Yet, if the stores have them, it's because someone is buying.

A few times, when I was in another Brazilian state capital, the hotel served some local bottled mineral water. No foul play, the bottle came sealed, I opened it myself. It had all the governmental health authorities' numbers, licenses, etc. on the label. Nevertheless, the water had a heavy taste of mud and rust. When that brand was the only option, I chose to take my chances from the nearest faucet. At least it tasted much better. I equate this to when prospects write me in a language I don't understand (usually DE or PL), and I choose to take my chances with GT or Poltran. The latter once told me that a Polish client had 180 "towels" (sic!) for me to translate.
icon_smile.gif


 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:35
Polish to English
+ ...
towels...??? Jan 18, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
...when prospects write me in a language I don't understand (usually DE or PL), and I choose to take my chances with GT or Poltran. The latter once told me that a Polish client had 180 "towels" (sic!) for me to translate.
icon_smile.gif


Being a Polish national I safely suspect that your prospect meant "computer files". Still, I would not dare to find the ways of converting the Polish word "pliki" (= computer files, plural) into English "towels". Probably, that's the machine translation at its best.
icon_smile.gif
MFG
Andrzej Mierzejewski


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:35
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Diacritics Jan 18, 2016

Andrzej Mierzejewski wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
...when prospects write me in a language I don't understand (usually DE or PL), and I choose to take my chances with GT or Poltran. The latter once told me that a Polish client had 180 "towels" (sic!) for me to translate.
icon_smile.gif


Being a Polish national I safely suspect that your prospect meant "computer files". Still, I would not dare to find the ways of converting the Polish word "pliki" (= computer files, plural) into English "towels". Probably, that's the machine translation at its best.


My parents were originally from Krakow, so I heard Polish being spoken at home every day for the first 25 years of my life. I never learned to speak it any better than a 4-yo Polish kid would. It's just too difficult, and I think I am a declination-impared individual, if such a thing exists. Though I speak 5 languages, 4 of them being Latin-based, my attempt to self-teach German with an allegedly fail-proof method failed miserably.

Yet in Portuguese I see all the mishaps diacritics are submitted to as they go through different computer systems. I usually skip the acute accent on José, to avoid receiving replies to JosÖ, Josy, Josǿ, Jos□, etc. Though Portuguese shares the C-cedilla (Ç) with French, Turkish, and a few others, our A-tilde (Ã) and O-tilde (Õ) seem to be unique, and these manage to wreak havoc quite often, especially if used in e-mail message subjects.

Polish has a relatively large number of exclusive diacritics, fortunately my parents taught me all of them. Nevertheless, I pronounce cz, rz, sz, ś all the same, so my version of spoken Polish takes considerable lenience and goodwill to be understood.

The point here is what kind of major diacritics botch-up could lead a sequence of computers to convert what I think was "180 strony" into "ręczniki" (= "towels" - thanks, Poltran!).

I wonder how many automatic translations may pose significant hazards.
I just opened Google Translate, typed "gift", asked it to auto-detect the language (got English), and translate into German ("Geschenk"). What if I were ignorant enough (just as I truly am in countless other languages), and that word were the only thing written in a package... already in German? Gift in DE means Poison in EN!!!


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:35
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Gift Jan 18, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I wonder how many automatic translations may pose significant hazards.
I just opened Google Translate, typed "gift", asked it to auto-detect the language (got English), and translate into German ("Geschenk"). What if I were ignorant enough (just as I truly am in countless other languages), and that word were the only thing written in a package... already in German? Gift in DE means Poison in EN!!!


In Norwegian 'gift' means both 'poison' and 'married'.


 


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