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How does Google Translate work?
Thread poster: chopra_2002

chopra_2002  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 21:46
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Aug 7, 2010

Hi friends,

I have installed Google Translate and as and when I encounter a difficult word, I select that word and multiple meanings of that word are shown. On a number of occasions, it is helpful while looking for the meaning of a particular word. Of course, it is not useful while translating a sentence and most of the times, it provides funny translations.

I am curious to know how it works. Has Google hired lexicographers, translators and other personnel to provide this service?

Regards,

Chopra


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Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:16
English to Russian
+ ...
Installed? Aug 7, 2010

langclinic wrote:

I have installed Google Translate


Installed? I always thought Google Translate was an online service that didn't require any installation...

In any case it's not the tool for a professional translator.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
It can be very useful Aug 7, 2010

I think it depends on your language pair how good it is. In mine it's pretty good, especially if you have a list of months/countries - it will do it for you. I use it quite a lot, within Studio 2009 (yes, you enable it there, Nikita) and you have to keep a careful eye out for strange translations / verb agreements / tenses, but it generally increases productivity. Sometimes it comes up with a word that I haven't used for ages, and that's a nice surprise (if it fits the context)
I think it works by searching the Web for ways a sentence/word has been translated before.
It's definitely improved over the last few years.


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Dawn Montague  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:16
German to English
+ ...
There may be confidentiality issues Aug 7, 2010

First of all, any technology can be used in a "good" or "bad" way (or "professional" or "unprofessional", for that matter). I've seen a lot of "unprofessional" use of TMs, but most of us are not condemning TMs as unprofessional. What matters, in the end, is the quality of the translation. Beware of accepting translations in either TMs or MT without the proper thought and research!

There could be a more serious problem with Google Translate, however. If you read the privacy policy for Google's "Translator Toolkit", you will find the following paragraph:

"By submitting your content through the Service, you grant Google the permission to use your content permanently to promote, improve or offer the Services. When, in the course of using your content to promote, improve or offer the Services, Google displays the content to an end user, it will do so only according to the sharing rules below, and only on a translation unit basis. The term “translation unit” has the meaning assigned to it in the XLIFF standard, and “displaying on a translation unit basis” means that a translated segment will be displayed only in response to fuzzy match search of the source segment."

If you are translating confidential documents, this could be an issue. Also, Yves Champollion, the original developer of Wordfast, which can access Google Translate if you turn on that function, writes in this post (http://www.proz.com/forum/wordfast_support/170731-wordfast_pro_and_google_translate-page2.html):

"Now one thing is certain: having source segments MTed out there means the remote MT engine must read those source segments (sorry for stating the obvious, but judging by the thread's sometimes emotional content, that needs to be done). Translators must make sure that submitting source segments to an external MT provider doesn't conflict with the level of confidentiality they're bound to."

So you need to take care on 2 levels - the quality of your translation and the confidentiality of your documents. Any source segments you send to Google Translate are recorded there forever.

[Edited at 2010-08-07 17:28 GMT]


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Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
how GT works Aug 7, 2010

Back to the topic... My very rough understanding is that GT indexes bilingual data available online. This goes from the most serious (e.g. official EU translated texts in my pair of langages) to the most doubtful.

This also explains why such services can be somewhat (and sometimes) good for the languages that are the most represented online, and pretty bad for rare languages (since the number of available data is low).

You may find interesting info on the MT forum - and I guess Jeff Allen could explain all this in a much better manner than I do... Jeff?


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:16
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Statistical_machine_translation Aug 7, 2010

Aude Sylvain wrote:
My very rough understanding is that GT indexes bilingual data available online.

A very good summary. For more detail, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_machine_translation


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Italian to English
Don't dismiss it Aug 7, 2010

Apologies Langclinic if I'm not strictly on-topic - I have no idea how it works.

I used to do quite a lot of revision of (awful) translations by native speakers of my source language (a commercial reality because of the relatively few English speakers with knowledge of Italian). I find revising Google Translate far easier - and much quicker than translating from scratch, to the extent that I have practically stopped using Voice Recognition software, which had previously boosted my productivity noticeably.

As Emma says, it sometimes comes up with very pleasant surprises too.

I now use GT4T Pro (Google Translate for Translators): http://dallascao.com/en/gt4t/ devised by ProZ.com Member Dallas Cao and I use it with a CAT tool, so it works within the target language segment without copying and pasting.

As far as confidentiality is concerned, the matter was also discussed here: http://tur.proz.com/forum/cat_tools_technical_help/144992-google_translate_and_confidentiality.html


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:16
Spanish to English
I do think the need for confidentiality should not be underestimated Aug 8, 2010

I just got a reminder from a very good client of mine about the need for confidentiality.

Industial espionage is serious stuff.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:16
Russian to English
+ ...
Can be useful Aug 8, 2010

Like most tools, it depends on how you use it. Lately, I've been translating a lot of Russian-language political articles already posted on the web that contain proper names from many different languages and countries. In general, foreign (non-Russian) proper names are rendered into Cyrillic more or less phonetically, so simple Romanization of the Cyrillic spelling usually doesn't work. Privacy isn't an issue, but correct spelling is, and Google Translate more often than not gives me the proper English spelling. I always doublecheck, of course...

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 23:16
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Technical context translation Aug 9, 2010

I find that Google Translate uses the statistical machine translation method and it is convenient to translate many scientific style of sentence writing e.g. technical report or user manual of equipment rather than literature contexts that demand human conception and cultural interpretation. As I posted before (in another forum), I split compound and complex sentences into many small simple sentences. Google translates the sentence (many segments) for me and I recompile them myself (a type of post-editing process). This is very convenient when I have to translate into languages with more difficulty in typing e.g. Chinese, Japanese where input needs both keying and converting of characters.

Best regards,

Soonthon L.


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Sean Linney  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
French to English
+ ...
The consequences for the profession Aug 9, 2010

One thing that concerns me about the use of Google Translate is the effect that it will have on the rates that we charge as professional translators. If translators carry out their work by revising texts that have been translated by Google, agencies and other clients will begin running their texts through Google themselves and paying us a lower rate to revise them. Is this the future of professional translation?

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Shouguang Cao
China
Local time: 00:16
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
:) Aug 9, 2010

Sean Linney wrote:

One thing that concerns me about the use of Google Translate is the effect that it will have on the rates that we charge as professional translators. If translators carry out their work by revising texts that have been translated by Google, agencies and other clients will begin running their texts through Google themselves and paying us a lower rate to revise them. Is this the future of professional translation?


Good point Sean, but sadly there seems no stopping it. One agency already ask me to offer a rate for reviewing machine translated text.

In fact, it is already happening. It is not just machine translation but the whole Internet: Internet has made information available to everyone and translation has been made easier with the help of the Internet, and therefore already cheaper than before.

But for the moment we can take the chance and make GT work for us before it starts to erode the rate:)


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Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Aug 9, 2010

Sean Linney wrote: agencies and other clients will begin running their texts through Google themselves and paying us a lower rate to revise them. Is this the future of professional translation?


Very good point, Sean. However, freelance also means we have the freedom to refuse this kind of work/pay.

MT* will indeed be used more and more, but what matters to us translators is how and that WE are the ones that use it, rather than agencies and LSPs, etc. So the trick is to outdo them at their own game, so to speak.


* Machine Translation, ... and: the amazing amounts of bilingual data that is becoming increasingly available on the internet.

https://www.tausdata.org/index.php/language-search-engine
http://mymemory.translated.net/
http://iate.europa.eu/iatediff/SearchByQuery.do
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/RECH_mot.do
http://dictionary.sensagent.com/
http://translate.google.com/translate_s?hl=en&layout=2&eotf=1&source=translation_tab
http://ksearch.proz.com/search/
http://www.mijnwoordenboek.nl/EN/translation.php?woord=&src=NL&des=EN
http://www.eurotermbank.com/Search.aspx?text=belegging&langfrom=nl&langto=en&subject=
http://ennl.dict.cc/
ETC

Google Translate is just one tiny facet of today's rapidly evolving information landscape. Things are definitely going to look a lot different in 10 years or so ... however, it is up to US to decide how we want things to look then.

Further and further off topic. Sorry about that. It is funny how this thread follows the same pattern that is repeating itself more and more these days in the forums. MT is obviously on a lot of people's minds.



[Edited at 2010-08-09 22:51 GMT]


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 23:16
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Literature translation? Aug 10, 2010

Sean Linney wrote:
One thing that concerns me about the use of Google Translate is the effect that it will have on the rates that we charge as professional translators. If translators carry out their work by revising texts that have been translated by Google, agencies and other clients will begin running their texts through Google themselves and paying us a lower rate to revise them. Is this the future of professional translation?

I am not certain agencies will hire for literature translation or not. If yes, Google Translate may not be useful. I understand that translators in the future can concentrate on more human-essence translation, not standardized translation e.g. for technical documents, patent, contract etc. I see more opportunity, not a threat, out of Google Translate. In fact, my job now are manly on editing, review, proofreading, not translating as I did before Internet popularity.

Best regards,

Soonthon L.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
French to English
+ ...
Future may not be all that bad Aug 10, 2010

Sean Linney wrote:
One thing that concerns me about the use of Google Translate is the effect that it will have on the rates that we charge as professional translators. If translators carry out their work by revising texts that have been translated by Google, agencies and other clients will begin running their texts through Google themselves and paying us a lower rate to revise them. Is this the future of professional translation?


It's hard to tell, but I think mainly Google Translate and other MT systems will be used for cases where a "proper" translation would not have been used anyway. On a daily basis, lots of companies get employees with a smattering in the language-- but who aren't actually translators or who don't really speak the language very fluently-- to knock up their internal memos betwween subsidiaries, e-mails to foreign clients etc. And of course, they always contained lots of mistakes, but nobody really cared that much. Now, instead of doing that, they might go for the option of revising (or not revising) Google Translate's effort. But these are essentially texts where they wouldn't have used a professional translator anyway.

I suspect a lot of the jobs at the lower end of the translation market are also ones where companies would have just translated internally before the digital sweatshop era.

So the way I see things, there'll always be a market for MT editing (and "translations" at two cents per word), but that won't really impact "proper" translation so much-- they're just different markets.


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