I was fortunate enough to attend a demonstration of Portage, the statistical automatic translation project led by the National Research Council of Canada, and I was genuinely surprised by what I saw. Even if the translations weren’t directly publishable, they were a long way from the pitiful results arrived at a few years ago.
However, this initiative is not quite representative of what an automatic translation program can do, since it benefitted from highly favourable conditions.
In the previous post, we examined the criteria for producing a high-quality automated translation. Let’s now look at how things work in less ideal situations. Lire la suite
Automatic translation (AT)
Automatic translation, or machine translation, requires no human intervention. There are two major concepts: rule-based and statistical automatic translation. Some systems do, however, use a combination of both (mixed systems).
Rule-based machine translation
This type of translation relies on dictionaries and rules of grammar and conjugation. It is the classic method behind such commercially available programs as Reverso and Babelfish. While these programs may be widely available and are often free, they run into limitations as soon as a text is complex or contains ambiguous expressions.
To give an example, an automatic translation program will correctly translate “Être dans de beaux draps” (to be in a mess), but will struggle with “Il a dormi dans de beaux draps” (He slept in a mess). Lire la suite
Translation memories (TM): the reality
Although these programs may be called translation memories, some of them are designed with the manager in mind more than the translator.
Since TMs allow the user to instantly find parts of previous translations, it can be tempting to use them to automatically translate parts of a text and just give the rest to a translator (which some translators call “translating the holes”). This might sound like a good idea, but a word of caution: if you don’t know how to use the tool properly, the consequences can be disastrous.
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