Friday, October 06, 2006

Machine translation progress

Machine translation seems to have made impressive progress in the last few years. Running e.g. a Wikipedia Article article through Google Language Tools or (which produces the almost identical translation) actually creates a more than just rough translation (as I think they did maybe 5-6 years ago); it's not really "correct" of course (as a human written equivalent article), but... "reasonably understandable" definitely, I'd say.

Now, I always thought of MT as an end-user tool; one would consciously use it, knowing fully well that it's a machine translation. Apparently not everybody agrees though... For example, I came across an article on Microsoft MSDN in German, which at first glance got me thinking, wow, these guys translate MSDN content? Very kind. Then I read more carefully... and somehow it didn't sound right (we don't say "seit wir uns Ihnen in der ...-Kolumne MITGETEILT haben" -- do we??). Hey, wouldn't some statement like "This is machine translated content. We hope the content is of interest and use to you in this form. (And maybe also:) Click here to order a high-quality human translation of this page" - using some Service Fa├žade to a translation services company.