[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Translator that Actually Works

It's a fact: Computers have always sucked at translation. If you have ever used the Babelfish online translation service, you'll understand what I mean right away. Fortunately, things may soon change thanks to a New York based firm named "Meaningful Machines".

LANGUAGE TRANSLATION is a tricky problem, not only for a piece of software but also for the human mind. A single word in one language, for example, may map into three or more in another. Carbonell likes to cite bank, with its utterly divergent uses for the place you keep your money, the edge of a river, and what an airplane might do. Then there are the dramatic differences in grammar and structure across languages. Arabic, for example, uses very little punctuation compared with English; Chinese contains no conjugations or plurals. For human translators, these problems are most often resolved through context or personal experience. There's no rule that says "between a rock and a hard place" isn't literal. We just know.

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  • Thanks for dropping by! And I'm glad I made your day! ;-)

    By Blogger John, at 4:31 PM  

  • I would like to see this new machine translation system working on large texts. A single phrase (and a very simple one!) translated correctly is not a proof of a revolution in the domain of machine translation. I can cite a lot of samples of correct translations by Systran (so blamed by the author), and even better translations by other online engines (www.online-translator.com, www.freetranslation.com, and so on). All these systems are being developed and improved by big companies which have invested a lot of time and money in their software and made their services very popular on the Web. Some of these translatars are better, some are worse (just like some printed dictionary contain more words and expressions than the others), but they do work and can be tested at any time - whereas the article in question doesn't provide any link to a working system.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:48 AM  

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