Saturday, February 27, 2010

Collaborative Translation by Monolinguals with Machine Translators

Daisuke Morita Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Toru Ishida Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Paper Link:

Morita & Ishida created a collaborative translation process that allows monolingual people to communicate reliably with a machine translator as the intermediary.

In this system, one person acts as the source language provider that enters sentences in one language. The source language sentence is translated by a machine translator and viewed by the target user who only speaks in the target language.

The target language user modifies the sentence so that the sentence makes sense and sends it back to the source user via the machine translator. If the sentence sent back to the source user has the same meaning as the one originally sent. Then the source user accepts it and the meaning of the sent message is confirmed for both sides of the communication. However if the sentence sent back does not have the same meaning, then the process is repeated.

The collaborative system solves two important problems in machine translation:
1) Mistranslation by the machine translator.
2) Nonsensical translations provided by the machine translator. (usually a result of puns in the source language or extreme differences in sentence structure)

The software associated with the system also provides highlighting to give a sentences progress in translation.

My spill:

Since I always deal with the google translator and the retarded translations it gives for any Japanese I give it, I think this is a wonderful tool.

The main problem I see is that communicating this way would be agonizingly slow. I guess the real use for this system is if your really want to ensure there are no miscommunication like for a business deal.
But for casual situations, this would be too slow.

It's also worth noting that this paper had a ton of grammatical errors which makes it hard to take this work seriously. (But translations from English-Japanese and Japanese-English can be difficult so I'll forgive them. ^_^)

In future work, I'd like to see some way to not only ensure that the meaning is preserved but that the grammar would be intact and the quality of the sentence is maintained. That would be impressive.

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