Machine translation

Subject: Machine translation
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 15:15:55 -0500

Bernie McCann provided an appropriate warning: beware of
translators who rely on machine translation. I agree, in
part, but the warning is far too broad. Many skilled
translators, particularly those who work in specific
subject areas with restricted vocabularies, use machine
translation to provide a quick first draft that they can
subsequently refine. For them, the issue comes down to a
simple question: is it more efficient to edit a machine's
draft or to create the draft manually and then edit it? The
final result is all that counts.

Bernie also wondered about quality control with 100
translators and 20 languages. A very valid concern, but the
same issue arises with one translator and one language: how
can you verify the quality of a translation? The best
answer I've been able to come up with is to pick someone
with a good track record and a willingness to work with you
on revisions. Then, find an audience member in the 2nd
language who can evaluate the translation. (You'd be wise
to do this anyway to address localisation issues.) Add a
clause to the contract that defines the translator's
responsibility in the event of an unsatisfactory job. Best
of all, find a contractor who will cooperate with you
rather than fighting you on fine points of the contract.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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