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Google Translate: The New Plague
Thread poster: jmleger

Bilbo Baggins
Catalan to English
+ ...
Google's faulty example Dec 11, 2010

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:

(referring to the Google example)

"Maurizio finds a reputable agency online by searching on Google and settles on a price.
Maurizio then uploads his original-language file into Translator Toolkit, selecting Italian as the source language and Portuguese (Brazil) as the target. He shares the instantly translated file with the translation agency, who shares the file with a freelance translator. When the translator is finished, Maurizio inspects the file to make sure the translations are completed . He pays the agency, downloads the file from Translator Toolkit and gives the file to his software engineer to prepare the Brazilian Portuguese website."



I find this very confusing. If M has a "translation" even if "instantly translated", why on earth does he need to share with a "translation agency" and then with a "freelance translator". And when the "translator" is finished (with what/how exactly?), how does M inspect/is M capable of inspecting the file to "make sure the "translations" (plural) "are completed".

Maybe if we read as follows we might actually understand the process:

He shares the MACHINE-TRANSLATED file with the translation agency, who ASSIGNS the file TO a freelance POST-MT EDITOR. When the POST-MT EDITOR is finished, M inspects the file to make sure the translations are completed >>STILL UNCLEAR WHAT IS MEANT: Bits missing? Bits badly done? Is M, in fact, in a position to judge?>> He pays the agency, downloads the file from Translator Toolkit and gives the file to his software engineer to prepare the Brazilian Portuguese website."

Maybe it's a problem of the blind leading the blind?


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:20
French to German
+ ...
"Pre-formatted" ways of writing/thinking Dec 11, 2010

Bilbo Baggins wrote:
Maybe it's a problem of the blind leading the blind?



You may find that many of the most vocal promoters of MT on official sites already seem to write (to think?) in some "pre-formatted" ways, which lead to contents lacking either substance, nuances or refinements.


 

NMR (X)
France
Local time: 08:20
French to Dutch
+ ...
Maybe you missed another point Dec 11, 2010

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:

(referring to the Google example)

"Maurizio finds a reputable agency online by searching on Google and settles on a price.
Maurizio then uploads his original-language file into Translator Toolkit, selecting Italian as the source language and Portuguese (Brazil) as the target. He shares the instantly translated file with the translation agency, who shares the file with a freelance translator. When the translator is finished, Maurizio inspects the file to make sure the translations are completed . He pays the agency, downloads the file from Translator Toolkit and gives the file to his software engineer to prepare the Brazilian Portuguese website."



Which reputable agency? How did he find it?


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:20
French to German
+ ...
OT: a meme, probably... Dec 12, 2010

NMR wrote:

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:

(referring to the Google example)

"Maurizio finds a reputable agency online by searching on Google and settles on a price.
Maurizio then uploads his original-language file into Translator Toolkit, selecting Italian as the source language and Portuguese (Brazil) as the target. He shares the instantly translated file with the translation agency, who shares the file with a freelance translator. When the translator is finished, Maurizio inspects the file to make sure the translations are completed . He pays the agency, downloads the file from Translator Toolkit and gives the file to his software engineer to prepare the Brazilian Portuguese website."



Which reputable agency? How did he find it?


This whole story as reported by Alexandre seems to fit very well in the category of "memes", see this video: http://ow.ly/3nTje


 

Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Google reccommends human translation, though... Dec 12, 2010

To be fair to Google, it has to be said that they make it clear that the quality of machine translation is not as good as that of a human translations:


"You often get what you pay for. While machine translation is free, the quality of the translation is not yet the same as the work of a paid, professional translator"

http://www.google.com/adwor
... See more
To be fair to Google, it has to be said that they make it clear that the quality of machine translation is not as good as that of a human translations:


"You often get what you pay for. While machine translation is free, the quality of the translation is not yet the same as the work of a paid, professional translator"

http://www.google.com/adwords/globaladvertiser/localizetips.html

And then:

"Your website represents your business in local markets. For this reason, it is advisable to write good quality content in your website for your potential international clients. Machine translation is a great tool to get instant translations but only a professional, human translator has a careful approach to every detail and can deliver effectively the message to the target audience. "

http://www.google.com/adwords/globaladvertiser/localizeguide.html

I would like to add that "Google Translation Toolkit" is a translation memory system and it's not the same as "Google translate", the machine translation application.

Daniel
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Dr. Julian Keogh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:20
Member (2007)
German to English
The reality of MT Sep 5, 2011

The reality of MT (particularly Google translate) is that it has improved vastly in quality since the early days of machine translation. As far as I know google uses statistical algorithms to find human translated matches to queries that are put to it. In effect, Google is developing a vast statistical translation memory.

I have used google MT in combination with Wordfast simply to speed up my work. This is particularly relevant at a time when the market has forced down line pric
... See more
The reality of MT (particularly Google translate) is that it has improved vastly in quality since the early days of machine translation. As far as I know google uses statistical algorithms to find human translated matches to queries that are put to it. In effect, Google is developing a vast statistical translation memory.

I have used google MT in combination with Wordfast simply to speed up my work. This is particularly relevant at a time when the market has forced down line prices for translations. There was a day when I could happily charge the equivalent of €1.30 for a 52 character line (before 2000). Those days are gone. Now it is more typical to charge down to almost half of that.

Whether you should use MT or not depends on the nature of the translations. You should never use it for literary translations of course, but you can use it as an aid to speed up translations used for more mundane material. My experience is that while google MT is not perfect, and always has to be checked against the original, it is getting better.

At the end of the day the market is forcing line prices down, the response of the industry is therefore to rely more on aids to speed up their work, and make it more reliable. More and more, translators are also being asked to deliver translation memories, which also bites into their future remuneration potential. Using these tools (TM and MT) is the only way that translators will ultimately remain economically viable, and people are very naive if they think otherwise. I have used CAT tools with TMs too, which purists might also consider cheating, but more often than not I find that TMs also deliver translations that have to be amended in the final edit, just to ensure that the text flows properly if nothing else.

Project managers who ban translators simply because they see evidence that google MT may have been used are simply pedantics who are dangerously naive to developments within the industry. Some are all too happy to go for lowest bidders (probably to bump up their own commissions), and send poor quality translations off to proofreaders who scratch their heads wondering why they agreed to proof something which ultimately needs to be completely rewritten. PMs often work for companies who are also trying to build up TM databases in the same way that google are doing on a massive scale. Often if they dont supply a TMX file, they get a pay cut, so everybody is in the business of ultimately making life harder for translators.
I think its a bit rich if PMs ban translators for using translation aids when the companies they represent are quite willing to exploit translators TMs for their own purposes. Aren't there also copyright issues here ? I am generally happy to supply TMX files, but I know the implications of it. If they have issues with the quality of my translations, so be it, but don't ask me how i arrived at producing that product....that is my business, unless of course I did something immoral or illegal.

In my opinion, the job of the translator is likely more and more to become a quality controller for MT, and most probably Google MT given the rapidity with which they are gobbling up the marketplace.

I was aware a long time ago about this development, and I have been forced to adapt to it. That is a continuous and dynamic process.

So the lesson is, ignore MT at your peril...it will catch up on all of us whether we like it or not.


[Edited at 2011-09-05 14:41 GMT]
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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 14:20
Chinese to English
I hate CAT and despise Google translate... Sep 5, 2011

But I agree with Dr. Julian.

Free translation is going to get better, until it's pretty usable for certain mundane purposes. And that's going to affect the translation market. Because what human translators offer is something different: a high quality, bespoke service, with certain guarantees that only human intelligence can offer.

Machine translation will work well enough, and will start to replace cheap human translation. And for an awful lot of translation, that will
... See more
But I agree with Dr. Julian.

Free translation is going to get better, until it's pretty usable for certain mundane purposes. And that's going to affect the translation market. Because what human translators offer is something different: a high quality, bespoke service, with certain guarantees that only human intelligence can offer.

Machine translation will work well enough, and will start to replace cheap human translation. And for an awful lot of translation, that will be enough. Many clients don't need the guarantee of quality. But ultimately it takes a human to check the source text, to make sure that the target means what the source means. A computer won't be able to give that kind of a guarantee. For any document that matters, humans will remain indispensable. Legal, technical, emotional content - it'll be a long long time before a computer can be trusted with that stuff. But there will be a greater onus on the client to work out when they need human translation. It's going to be an interesting transition.
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jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:20
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Really? Sep 5, 2011

I have tried Google translate. When you translate a text from scratch, you put down your interpretation as you go. When you use GT, you first read the text and gain your own interpretation of it, then you get the machine interpretation of it. So now you have to check your own interpretation against the machine's interpretation. More often than not the mistakes (translation, syntax, grammar) are on the machine side, agreed? So then you have to cobble into shape sentences which agree with your in... See more
I have tried Google translate. When you translate a text from scratch, you put down your interpretation as you go. When you use GT, you first read the text and gain your own interpretation of it, then you get the machine interpretation of it. So now you have to check your own interpretation against the machine's interpretation. More often than not the mistakes (translation, syntax, grammar) are on the machine side, agreed? So then you have to cobble into shape sentences which agree with your interpretation of the text based on words and syntax used by the machine. This may require extensive reworking during which you need to keep going back to the original to make sure you are not erring. All in all, it seems to me it takes much more time and effort that doing the translation outright. Maybe I am not doing this right.Collapse


 

Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:20
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Transition. Sep 5, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

But I agree with Dr. Julian.

Free translation is going to get better, until it's pretty usable for certain mundane purposes. And that's going to affect the translation market. Because what human translators offer is something different: a high quality, bespoke service, with certain guarantees that only human intelligence can offer.

Machine translation will work well enough, and will start to replace cheap human translation. And for an awful lot of translation, that will be enough. Many clients don't need the guarantee of quality. But ultimately it takes a human to check the source text, to make sure that the target means what the source means. A computer won't be able to give that kind of a guarantee. For any document that matters, humans will remain indispensable. Legal, technical, emotional content - it'll be a long long time before a computer can be trusted with that stuff. But there will be a greater onus on the client to work out when they need human translation. It's going to be an interesting transition.


Good afternoon, dear Phil.

So, do you think traslators and our profession will not be substituted?

As Proz users, most of us translate legal or technical documents, not just a lady Gaga songs so I hope we can preserve our jobs i nthe middle of this transition. I hope we will not be rejected by potential clients.


 

Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:20
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The end Sep 5, 2011

Dr. Julian Keogh wrote:

...In my opinion, the job of the translator is likely more and more to become a quality controller for MT, and most probably Google MT given the rapidity with which they are gobbling up the marketplace.

...

[Edited at 2011-09-05 14:41 GMT]


But Julian, then translators will become a huge mass of editors and our rates will tend to be lower and lower...


 

jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:20
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tell me why I should not just use GT? Sep 5, 2011

That was the question a old client just asked me as we were discussing the cost of translating hundreds of computer screen messages into Thai. At a loss for word I took some copy from a Thai Website and asked him to put that into GT and then let me know if he was happy with the quality of the English or if he understood at all what the subject was. We got the job.

 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:20
Greek to English
+ ...
Some random input fom my experience Sep 5, 2011

You' re based in the U.S., right?

In my experience (not to be generalized or argued against, it's only my personal experience and for each one of the following, in more than 100 cases):

a) Many translators assume that PMs in the U.S. are kind of naive. For example, they send them an edited text where they changed "I threw a ball" to "a ball was thrown by me", and they say that "the translator made a serious error". Don't be surprised, translators are not the most mature
... See more
You' re based in the U.S., right?

In my experience (not to be generalized or argued against, it's only my personal experience and for each one of the following, in more than 100 cases):

a) Many translators assume that PMs in the U.S. are kind of naive. For example, they send them an edited text where they changed "I threw a ball" to "a ball was thrown by me", and they say that "the translator made a serious error". Don't be surprised, translators are not the most mature group of professionals and somehow they think they'll get away with it. If the translator reacts, then the editor sends a "google translate" screenshot. The project manager, most times a very young person who grew up trusting little devices and Google, is convinced.

b) In many cases, a full time translator subcontracts another one (yes, in MANY cases), contrary to the provisions of his agreement with the agency. The second translator, a part timer, is getting paid very little. Google Translate it is then.

c) In other cases, a new part time translator posts an impressive resume, according to which they are specialists in everything. For example, they are also specialists in Financial Translations (then they post a Forum question "how do I issue an invoice"?). Their secret? "I'll find everything I need on the internet". That includes Google translate.
"And I can beat all prices out there".

During the last 3-4 years, due to the "price wars", I see more and more translations that sound a bit funny for the subject. I have a book on photography which is 20 years old. It was translated into Greek by an actual photographer. Terminology is perfect. Style is ok. Some things may sound a bit "not perfect", but the photography lingo is there, and it's written in a way that helps me understand the topic. Simple, clear language.
I have another book on photography that was published two years ago and is translated by "anonymous" - that is, by an agency. It's worthless. Obviously written by another "guy of girl with a computer" and I'm sure that it went through "multiple quality management phases". As a serious amateur photographer with decades of experience and professional equipment, I threw it away. It even calls the aperture ... "adjustable opening" (!). Ah, and the coffee machine manual (translated from French into English) is so badly written (still, it's not machine translated) that it's useless too.

Why? The translator had no idea about the topic. The PM has no idea about foreign languages or that different industries use different expressions and terms and you can't just use medical terms in engineering and vice versa just because "they' re both in the dictionary".
The PM just wants to assign the job and go home. The translator wants to get money because with such low prices in the market, she won't be able to support herself without translating everything that comes her way.
The editor just browses quickly for grammar and spelling errors and sends it back, the second editor doesn't even bother ("they pay me $25 to check 3,000 words, that is, 1500 source and 1500 target - after taxes, that's 15 bucks - forget it").

Everything is expensive for the agency with all the overhead cost etc, and voila! A brand new shiny book with fancy fonts that's practically useless (the English copy of the specific book is excellent).

Perhaps if you guys thought about the Professional Translator for a moment - a peson who's taxed about 30% (self-employment contribution + income tax), who works alone and misses life's important events many times (there's no "closing the office time") and destroys relationships because of this, and sees his income reduced to 1/3 (inflation adjusted) of what it was 15 years ago. Dissapointed? Yes. Left the market? Many of them, yes - some of them were the best ever. Frustrated with malicious editors? Sure.

If you, the Project Managers, start thinking "I'm dealing with a human being on the other side", then you'll get human behavior. Because some of you (not general - but in many many cases) treat translators like machines: You send an email with a job at 8pm asking to be translated by 8am in the morning, although you know it's not urgent. Or you think that the "cheap translator we found is very good, and we were very lucky". Doesn't it surprise you that you got that "lucky"?

Treat them like machines, you'll get machines. At the end, the clients will realize it and they' ll fire us all, translators and PMs. The clients can use the machines themselves without us in the middle.


PS. I knew this translator in Greece, for me he's still the "Absolute Guru" in Greek translations. Simple perfection. He's not in this business anymore, quit 4 years ago. His reasons? "Can't really give time to a text with these kind of prices", "malicious editing has become the norm", "unexplained and undocumented editing exists only in this industry", "this anonimity is unique - in no other industry the members of a team do not know each other, are they trying to hide something?" etc etc.
We must be the only "free market" sector out there, because everyone else follows regulations and they have unions, associations, committees and so forth to protect the interests of all sides.
Not to mention lack of business sense. Do you know how many PMs prefer to employ cheap translators, thinking that "additional editors will solve this problem".

(Let's make a low quality airplane, and additional duct tape will solve the problem)

Argue all you want on "points". The truth is that emotions are real, and so is time and practices. A translator gets dumped by his/her fiancee because he cancelled yet another date, for an "urgent minimum project". Try to convince him/her that it was trully necessary and explain to them why everyone thought about it the last minute (especially when he gets the same copy to check it out two days later). Nobody else in the office wanted to upset their schedule, so they dumped the time abnormality to the translator. Without even the (good old) customary rush charge.
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Ramon Inglada  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent post Sep 5, 2011

The above post by Eleftherios is one of the best I have ever read here in Proz. I fully agree with him, but I wouldn't have been able to express it so well.

Thanks a lot Eleftherios.


 

René Stranz-Nikitin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:20
Czech to German
+ ...
Congratulations to Eleftherios from me too Sep 5, 2011

Ramon Inglada wrote:

The above post by Eleftherios is one of the best I have ever read here in Proz. I fully agree with him, but I wouldn't have been able to express it so well.

Thanks a lot Eleftherios.


Exactly, I would like to thank Eleftherios as well for his posting. It was very satisfying to read and to feel that one of us is not afraid to say the truth.

Thanks so much!

René Stranz-Nikitin

[Edited at 2011-09-05 19:27 GMT]


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 06:20
Japanese to English
Third Sep 5, 2011

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
A translator gets dumped by his/her fiancee because he cancelled yet another date, for an "urgent minimum project".


Great post all around, Eleftherios. I can't sympathize too much with that translator though. He/she deserves to be dumped if s/he can't keep his/her priorities straight.


 
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