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Feb 5, 2009

The importance of using machine translation

It's been a hard winter in the Berlin area these past few weeks. It was bitterly cold, and the accumulated snow and ice on the forest paths made walking the dog more than a little hazardous. As the weather turned warmer, a new hazard arose: ice on the roof began to fall off in large, heavy clumps. This morning as I was about to walk my dog, I was struck on the head by a large chunk. Fortunately, the blow wasn't too bad, and I've fully recovered my senses.

After carefully observing the increasing cost pressures on markets worldwide, considering the Great Economic Crisis that now has us all in its death grip, the steady improvement of machine translation over the years and the level of quality offered by most translators, I can now authoritatively state that machine translation is the right option for those who understand the importance of speed and cost-savings up front and don't mind spending a little or a lot afterward on the occasional lawsuit for failure to comply with various domestic laws on product documentation and safety. I think that MT could have especially interesting application for public signage to discourage things such as unnecessary travel in these hard times.

And, of course, editing a machine translation is far more gratifying than editing the work of a human! Really! One often sees the same stupid mistakes (though mistakes by the computer tend to be more consistent, thus easier to correct), but human translators get upset and still insist on getting paid for their shoddy work. A machine has far less ego (Hal excepted), and takes such correction in stride. Some in fact, such as Google Translate, will take your feedback and try to do better in the future. Now how many translators can you say that of?

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Clicked too soon. Sorry about that.

    I'm glad you weren't hurt. If we don't work we don't earn. It's something I know I fear... Yes, I have accident insurance, but I don't trust that the company would pay out. Chunks of ice can be perilous. The news just said it was going to start warming up here and the ice dams on the roof are going to start melting. Yay!

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  3. Don't worry, Jill. The bit about the ice is actually a running joke on ProZ. My old noggin is still unknocked for what it's worth, but I have been rather frightened by the huge chunks that have fallen. We'll have to figure out some sort of arbor walkway in the landscaping out front to keep visitors or the post lady from getting maimed. Being from Southern California originally, I was not really prepared to deal with some of these winter hazards!

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  4. The future for translation or nemesis of all translators. I for one think that the advent of CAT, MT, call it what you will is a true step forward for the profession, although some might disagree...
    http://transubstantiation.wordpress.com/

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