Automatic translation

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Automatic translation

Message  Philippe-Henri le Sam 30 Jan 2016, 20:56


Please write the title in english when then topic is for the english room!
I correct it, but your previous title was "traduction automatique" ...
Florent, the ;-)

I recently had an argument with an American « AT » promoter (automatic translation).

I said:

As  a professional freelance bilingual translator I would never use machine translation because I work in a domain that requires delicate know-how. I’m a craftsman, not an industrialist.

Whatever the present state of technology, I believe a machine can roughly imitate my human speech, as a parrot does, without understanding, but will never translate what I really have in mind. What I say, write or translate in the light of my culture, skill, knowledge, intuition or expertise cannot just be digitalized, unless I wait until the advent of the quantum computer…

So your question about technology, its potential, and its challenges doesn’t mean anything to me, neither does it to my colleagues, who translate semanticly, not according to your «machines».

Are there, in our Polyglot community, friends who have to deal with the same problem? Do they believe we can trust Google and company to roughly deliver “pidgin” translations that make no sense at all?  

Philippe-Henri

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  MurielB le Sam 30 Jan 2016, 21:35

Are there, in our Polyglot community, friends who have to deal with the same problem? Do they believe we can trust Google and company to roughly deliver “pidgin” translations that make no sense at all?  

Hi Henri !
Thanks for your words so important for our polyglot community. To get a good result, translators must take many elements into account: the tone of the text, cultural or contextual references, slang, specific expressions, familiar language and so on and so forth. As you said :
a machine can roughly imitate a human speech, as a parrot does, without understanding, but will never translate what a person really has in mind.


Machine translation may appear as a good way to save money and time, but the quality of th translation is much lower than a human translation, because each language has its own structure and machine translations can't take that into account.

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Traduction Automatiqe

Message  Philippe-Henri le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 19:10

To Muriel

It is true that there are a crowd of people who implicitly trust Google and similar online translation machines, which just »«trans-late» (Lat. translatio) i.e. replace one word or sentence onto another.

As a professional, I may appear very particular about quality. In our job, however, we should not be content with, or meet our customer’s demand, by delivering a clumsy, rough translation, as machines do. Any translation must be perfect. Compare it with chess play where, in a certain phase, any move is good but only one will be the best one to secure victory.

The fact is that language is not just a means of communication. Language mainly covers a culture. Usually, a culture is linked to a particular country or nation, but not necessarily. Thus, binationals and even polynationals, gradually become polyglots by using different idioms in their daily life.

In this context, the concept of «mother tongue» doesn’t mean anything. You can have several mothers (e.g. when your father remarried) and you can have several mother tongues if your biological mother was a bilingual speaker.

Machine translation «as a good way to save money and time» is a wrong idea. First, life isn’t just made of saving money and time. Second, machine translation requires proofreading by a human operator, which adds extra costs. Mostly, a machine translation is so bad that it’s better and quicker to have it redone by a human translator.

The main handicap of machine translation is not being able to cope with idiomatic expressions and underlying meaning of words. By talking, we express only part of what we actually mean. There is much «non dit» in what we actually say. It’s up to the interlocutor to «interpret» our thought. This is precisely «the missing link» in straight communication between man and machine.

By the way, we should not mistake AT (automatic translation) for CAT (computer-assisted translation). Sure, the latter is a useful tool to help the translator in his task while keeping his work under control. I daresay, a translator ̶ or a polyglot ̶ should remain the sole master on board!

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  MurielB le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 19:54

Y
Hi Henri
This discussion brings to mind the importance of active listening. A lot of information are being conveyed to us every day of our life . Are we able to understand them all ? Are we empathetic towards our friends, our colleagues ? Are we so full of ourselves that we can't undestand people 's view points, people's joys, people's difficulties ?
I think that a good translator should be first a good active listener to perfectly able to understand the message before translating it in another culture, into another language which supposes to perfectly know, that culture, that language.
I am sure a machine can't do that.
Here is an interesting video about active listening.


Dernière édition par MurielB le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 20:44, édité 3 fois

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  gerardM le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 20:39

Hi everyone,

We have to consider that:
- there're several levels of language - street language, detective novels, literature, poems, etc
- there're several domains - sciences, technical, commercial, business, everyday language, etc
- AT software will make progress
- school teaching becomes impoverished
- the vocabulary (as well as grammar) of locals becomes poorer and poorer
- international communication creates a pidgin language (lower number of words, simple grammar...)
- situations will use obvious AT such as business phone calls, business meetings and so on and so forth (and so fifth).
- so, there is a large range of needs...

There is room for AT...
Anyway, AT will take more and more importance in daily life.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  MurielB le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 20:58

Anyway, AT will take more and more importance in daily life.

  1. Gérard AT will concentrate on basic communications then.... on a deeper level translators will have to do the job.


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Re: Automatic translation

Message  gerardM le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 22:43

MurielB a écrit:
Anyway, AT will take more and more importance in daily life.

  1. Gérard AT will concentrate on basic communications then.... on a deeper level translators will have to do the job.


No Muriel.
There are special domains which won't need sophisticated skills, daily languages will become poorer (already in progress in any countries due to immigration, to international communication, etc), software will make progress...
Machines will do a big part of daily work.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  Guilaine le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 23:13

HI Philippe-Henri and everyone,

Can there really be more than one mother-tongue ? I doubt it.
There is always a language that you are more familiar with, either because you use it more a home, with your parents, at school, in the country you have longer lived in.
You can be a perfect bilingual, but still have only one mother-tongue.
Of course, we are not talking of people's biological mother But the person with whom they grew up, the environment in which they evolved.
Even if there are two people (of different language, culture) who equally counted for you, the language spoken in your childhood is your mother-tongue. Your accent is at best and you never forget it.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  MurielB le Dim 31 Jan 2016, 23:28

Hi Henri, Gerard, Guilaine, everyone !

The empathic civilisation by Rifkin is a book I have read with great interest http://www.empathiccivilization.com/
How can an empathic world be possible  with superficial communication, poor vocabulary, translating machines ? Human beings can't communicate their feelings, their culture, their soul, that way.

 Indeed, the emergence of this empathetic consciousness has implications for the future that will likely be as profound and far-reaching as when Enlightenment philosophers upended faith-based consciousness with the canon of reason.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  Admin le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 00:09

I'n not very good  in english, but I often use  AT. I know it isn't perfect, despite sofware and artificial intelligence will make huge progress, but it's enought for my level and it give me a good idea of what a sentence (or a word) means. It's very pratical for people how have like me motricity problems to use a dictionnary. For me its a spendiferous tool to improve my english!

Of course, I can copy the wholly texte in the  AT runtime and click on the "Translate" button, but I'll become lazy (I'm already disable, it's enought!) and ... bad in english!

But don't worry all english teachers and professionnals translators, it is not tomorrow that you'll be replace by a machine ...
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Re: Automatic translation

Message  Philippe-Henri le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 14:47

160201 To Muriel, GérardM, Guilaine,Florent et alea

I’m happy [grin] to have unleashed an interesting, albeit controversial discussion on Automatic Translation (= machine translation).

Muriel’s video on «active listening» concentrates on interpretation (= verbal translation), particularly in business talk. This is not my domain. I’m rather specialized in written translation, so I’m not qualified to comment on the topic of verbal translation.Just one remark: conference interpreters are locked up in cabins around the conference room, separated by glass panels. They can see the speaker but, due to the distance, cannot fully perceive his «body language».

On the other hand, in both verbal and written translation, there should be empathy of sorts, simply because humans do never fully express themselves. Our discourse is cram full of insinuations and intentional ambiguities. In other words we skip underlying meanings that are supposed to be understood by the listener or reader.

I don’t share Gerard M’s opinion that translation in some special domains (immigration, international communication etc.) won't need sophisticated skills. Nor do I share the idea that machines would do the «big part of daily work». Translation fundamentally refers to human skills. Translation is not just a supermarket product offered at different prices and qualities or sold off when the sales (soldes) are on. A translation must be good. If translation isn’t good, it’s bad. Machines, however «practical» they may appear to the «man in the street», do but increase the bad reputation of the job. And of the translator.

As to Guilaine’s comments on «mother tongue(s)» I confirm that, based on my own experience, one can have more than one mother tongue. In my case, there is neither of my mother tongues I’m more (or less) familiar with. I was brought up in a German culture and acquired Latin culture later on. Both suit me best!

In the case of, e.g., African immigrants, they usually speak French or English on top of their local dialect. When speaking French or English, they don’t mix up both cultures. I admit you can’t get rid of the accent you’ve got from the language originally spoken and taught in your childhood. But, beyond the question of accent, language is primary a question of CULTURE. You necessarily adopt the culture (and language) you have deliberately chosen to live in.

Short, machine translation is of no earthy use. It’s just a silly expedient to live up to a quick solution of approximate understanding. It’s a blasphemy cast on one of man’s most admirable intellectual faculties: language!

Philippe-Henri


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Re: Automatic translation

Message  gerardM le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 15:53

A question as my partial response:

Microsoft is aimed at providing instant translation for phone exchange or meeting... their ads show a kind of glass pane between two persons and their words immediately translated and displayed on the pane.
When attending an international meeting at Microsoft's, I'm always stunned to read the text of the speaker immediately displayed on a screen (I'm not speaking about translation but machine understanding of the sentence pronounced by the speaker - not a translation but a first step toward it - however, nowadays a human can fix the result).

Don't you trust them?


Okay for poor translation being no translation but I repeat a few items:
- there are various circumstances, hence various needs - sorry but the police won't hire a graduated interpreter to get ID papers from migrants or a license (US spelling) from a foreign driver
- languages became poorer and poorer (compared to the language of the 1950s - inside the native French population) and will become poorer and poorer in the years to come (migrants, poor schooling, etc)
- software will be better and better

A big part of translation needs will be taken by machines.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  Guilaine le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 22:32

Just for the fun of it, I want to convey here the translation I found in REVERSO.
As Florent said : the teachers have still a long time ahead ! (and the interpreters/translators as well).


The struggle to get out of the station became harder because no one could breathe. My lungs felt like they would implode. It was something toxic, something acrid, something that was burning my insides and scratching my eyes.
Traduction de Reverso en Français Ecoutez la traduction
La lutte pour sortir de la station est devenue plus durement parce que personne ne pourrait respirer. Mes poumons ressemblés à ils imploseraient. Il était quelque chose le toxique, quelque chose d'âcre, quelque chose qui brûlait mon insides et griffait mes
yeux
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Re: Automatic translation

Message  MurielB le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 22:36

Hi everyone
I think a machine can translate a text when there are no emotions nor feelings whatsoever. When someone is expressing their feelings, their view points about life, their fundamental political or philosophical convictions,  it is not possible. Anyway i agree that a big part of translation needs will be taken by machines in the near future.

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Re: Automatic translation

Message  gerardM le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 23:14

Hi Muriel, hi everyone,
MurielB a écrit:... it is not possible...
Though a computer professional, I was stunned by the possibilities of data processing... I'm sure we'll still be in the future!

Human knowledge will be stored and used (better than by human beings).
Human emotions will be integrated as well, and used (better than by humans).

Computing will help humanity... however, unfortunatly, weird people will try to use it for nasty outcome.


Back to the subject: translating and interpreting will be taken over.

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Automatic Translation

Message  Philippe-Henri le Lun 01 Fév 2016, 23:32

To Gerard M, Muriel et alea :

"A big part of translation needs will be taken by machines."

Gererd'd prediction sounds the dead knell of our job! Like Muriel, you merely refer to interpretation, i.e. verbal communication. My job is dealing with written communication, which is quite another subject.

He believes a big part of translation needs will be taken over by machines. How big is a «big part”? And what about the remaining part of those needs which a machine is unable to handle? A partial translation doesn’t make sense and may even lead to misunderstanding. And how do you define «needs»? A need is a need. There are no half-needs. Whatever the circumstances, poor translation is no translation. Whatever the technological level of software, it will never be able to seize all subtleties of human thought.

Translation machines are just robots. They have been programmed in assembly language. Actually, artificial intelligence works the same way. Now, you may argue that the human brain too has been programmed by our real life experiences. That’s perfectly true. But you can’t compare a poorly wired battery of microprocessors with the hundred trillions of interconnected neurons and synapses of our central nervous system.

Philippe-Henri

GerardM said: Microsoft is aimed at providing instant translation for phone exchange or meeting... their ads show a kind of glass pane between two persons and their words immediately translated and displayed on the pane.
When attending an international meeting at Microsoft's, I'm always stunned to read the text of the speaker immediately displayed on a screen (I'm not speaking about translation but machine understanding of the sentence pronounced by the speaker - not a translation but a first step toward it - however, nowadays a human can fix the result).

Don't you trust them?


Okay for poor translation being no translation but I repeat a few items:
- there are various circumstances, hence various needs - sorry but the police won't hire a graduated interpreter to get ID papers from migrants or a license (US spelling) from a foreign driver
- languages became poorer and poorer (compared to the language of the 1950s - inside the native French population) and will become poorer and poorer in the years to come (migrants, poor schooling, etc)
- software will be better and better

A big part of translation needs will be taken by machines.


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Re: Automatic translation

Message  gerardM le Mar 02 Fév 2016, 00:02

> a poorly wired battery of microprocessors
This is not the description of nowadays' computers, and is very far from the description of the computers to come.


~~ edit
Computers process data as a combination of 0s and 1s.
Га́рри Ки́мович Каспа́ров (Garry Kimovich Kasparov born Garik Kimovich Weinstein)
Title Grandmaster (1980)
World Champion 1985–93 (undisputed)
1993–2000 (classical)
FIDE rating 2812 (January 2016) [inactive]
Peak rating 2851 (July 1999, January 2000)
Peak ranking No. 1 (January 1984)
became in 1997, the first world champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue... by such combination of 0s and 1s.
Let me add: everything is a combination of 0s and 1s, or will be.

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Automatic Translation

Message  Philippe-Henri le Mar 02 Fév 2016, 23:25

I understand Muriel’s position which said that machine translation is limited to basic documents. (Technical, medical, etc.)

There, machines can (more or less) do the job. Machines, however, are unable to digitalize human thought

I won’t get further into this topic. Let’s leave it to neuroscientists, who anyway don’t agree one among another.

Henri

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automatic translation and listening skills

Message  nicco adrien le Mar 09 Fév 2016, 21:43

nicco adrien Lun 8 Fév - 21:53
- I agree with the sentence : AT is not sufficient to obtain a satisfactory translation, but it is frequently useful to make a "first version" which must be controlled and improved
- I think that the movies about " pronounciation" and "grammar " are very good , but may be improved in two ways :
.....it is necessary to hear them several times , first times with a slower speech, them with normal speech (but not with quick jokes speech!)
.....It would be better to avoid the moving man speaking on the side : it takes too much the view,: and even worse , the rate of the views (8 per second ?) is really tiring for the eyes, and may cause some trouble in hearing attention.

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