Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Feb 2018 23:04 UTC, submitted by Morgan
Google

Such a development would cause a soul-shattering upheaval in my mental life. Although I fully understand the fascination of trying to get machines to translate well, I am not in the least eager to see human translators replaced by inanimate machines. Indeed, the idea frightens and revolts me. To my mind, translation is an incredibly subtle art that draws constantly on one's many years of experience in life, and on one's creative imagination. If, some "fine" day, human translators were to become relics of the past, my respect for the human mind would be profoundly shaken, and the shock would leave me reeling with terrible confusion and immense, permanent sadness.

As a translator myself, I can indeed confirm Google Translate is complete and utter garbage, but the idea that I would "mourn" the end of translators seems outlandish to me. The unstoppable march of technology has eliminated countless jobs over the course of human existence, and if translators are next, I don't see any reason to mourn the end of my occupation. Of course, it'd suck for me personally, but that's about it.

That being said, I'm not afraid of running out of work any time soon. Google Translate's results are pretty terrible, and they only seem to be getting worse for me, instead of getting better. There's no doubt in my mind that machine translation will eventually get good enough, but I think it'll take at least another 20 years, if not more, to get there.

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GT not as bad as it used to be, but still
by Temcat on Tue 6th Feb 2018 12:54 UTC
Temcat
Member since:
2005-10-18

As a technical translator, there's no chance for GT to replace humans anytime soon for translating even slightly complex material adequately for business purposes. You get a rough idea of the content, that's all. I believe it's become better now than it used to be, but still, GT is no competitor to me in my business.

There is one additional reason why it won't happen soon: because the source itself is often not perfect. An important task for a translator is to convey the author's intent and not necessarily what they literally said.

Edited 2018-02-06 12:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Are you a programmer? That is what we have to do all the time.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

I'm not a programmer, but among other things, I localize SW for a big vendor. They do it, too. The results are, again, better than they used to be, but still shit by the common standards of translation industry. I guess they know it too, because they pay me for machine-translated strings the same as for untranslated ones. (Of course, by default, they wanted to pay less for MT strings but I refused, and they didn't even attempt to haggle.)

In narrow contexts, you can get reasonably good results from MT by using tightly-controlled language and being extremely careful with terminology, but that's not always possible. Where I live, I've heard about such setups being used in the energy industry.

Moreover, as an additional complication, now people who write the English source barely speak English themselves. This confuses the hell out of MT engines and meatware translators alike.

Reply Parent Score: 1