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Machine translation

Watch Juliet Haydock, a freelance translator, discuss the future of professional translation.
Text on screen: Does machine translation impact your work? Can it get good enough to replace translators? With Google Translate, a lot of the very informal things that we used to translate, like emails, they just get run through Google Translate now to get the gist.
I don’t I’m not one of the people who says that Google translate is awful because it’s a system that’s based on corpora of languages. And the corpora all come from very authoritative texts. So it’s actually very, very useful for European Commission, European Union, and the United Nations texts because what makes up those corpora are those texts. So if you’re translating European Commission texts and you run it through Google translate, I would never use it as a basis for my translation, but it’s quite handy to have it propped up there and look at it because it will come up with all the correct names of all the committees, the correct names of all the regulations, the directives.
So I don’t think Google translate can be written off by any account. And it’s actually getting better and better. But I don’t think it will put us out of business. Google translate couldn’t do the book I’m doing at the moment.
I mean the Commission is actually using their own version of Google translate now for a lot of their reports. And some of the jobs I’m offered are actually post-editing things that they’ve put through their own machine translation tool. So that could be the way things are going for somewhere like the Commission. But for books and things like that, you’ll always need a flesh and blood translator.

In the video you can hear Juliet Haydock, a translator with over thirty years of experience.

She mentions how professionals can take advantage of recent advances in machine translation for terminology research and shares her view on the future of machine and human translators.

Technology has had a huge impact on how translations are produced to meet tight deadlines and sufficient quality standards. One of the two main types of translation technology is machine translation (MT): programmes where you type text in one language and get a translation, such as Google Translate or Babylon.

The translations can be clumsy and wrong, even if for some language pairs and for simple, repetitive texts the quality has improved a lot. Given the industry focus on efficiency, the use of MT may be acceptable for some ‘quick and dirty’ internal tasks, where the gist matters.

  • What are your views on machine translation?
  • Will it ever replace human translators?
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