Translations... dogma or realism?

Subject: Translations... dogma or realism?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Susan Harkus'" <Susan -dot- Harkus -at- xt3 -dot- com -dot- au>
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2000 08:21:57 -0400

Susan Harkus, commenting on the output from translation software, observes
<<it is disappointing to see people writing off a technology that has much
to offer. More importantly, it is sad to see dogmatic statements that might
deter others from leveraging from the technology. The key to acceptable
draft output from translation software is the quality of the input, as well
as the functionality of the software. By quality of input I mean
well-structured prose using terms/vocabulary consistently. As for idiomatic
language, in most cases, the software's custom dictionary will address the

Excellent points. Plus, nobody in their right mind uses machine translation
to produce a final draft that won't be revised by humans. Such tools are a
godsend to busy translators; I've cut my translation times by more than half
simply by using a huge search and replace macro that I built in Word. The
results are occasionally about as nonsensical as you'd expect, but I'm aware
of that and use the macros solely to cut my typing time, not to do the hard
work for me. Once I've gotten the bulk of the nouns replaced (and many of
the verbs), the largely mechanical labor is over. What remains is what
fascinates me about translation: understanding what the author was trying to
say in French, and making the same message clear in English. All I need to
do most of the time is clean things up and turning them into more colloquial
English. I'd be lost without the technology--or I'd have to hire someone
else to handle the workload, robbing me of work that I really enjoy.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe

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