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Google announces Google Translation Center - What do you think?
Thread poster: Andre Pellet (X)

Andre Pellet (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
Aug 7, 2008

All,

As you may have seen recently, Google has announced it will be creating a Google Translation Center (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html) in which it will be possible to obtain not only machine translation, but also human translation.

Human translation will be facilitated between customers and translators who are willing to work either as vo
... See more
All,

As you may have seen recently, Google has announced it will be creating a Google Translation Center (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html) in which it will be possible to obtain not only machine translation, but also human translation.

Human translation will be facilitated between customers and translators who are willing to work either as volunteers or for a fee. The platform will be backed by Google's machine translation and linguistic data.

What is your reaction? Will it affect your business? What does this mean to you?

Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

Thanks,

Andre Pellet
COO
ProZ.com
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Bertil Andreazon  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:19
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
Aug 7, 2008

Andre Pellet wrote:

All,

As you may have seen recently, Google has announced it will be creating a Google Translation Center (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html) in which it will be possible to obtain not only machine translation, but also human translation.

Human translation will be facilitated between customers and translators who are willing to work either as volunteers or for a fee. The platform will be backed by Google's machine translation and linguistic data.

What is your reaction? Will it affect your business? What does this mean to you?

Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

Thanks,

Andre Pellet
COO
ProZ.com






[Redigerad 2008-08-07 18:48]

[Redigerad 2008-08-07 18:58]


 

Bertil Andreazon  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:19
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
Aug 7, 2008

[quote]B Andreazon wrote:

Andre Pellet wrote:

All,

As you may have seen recently, Google has announced it will be creating a Google Translation Center (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html) in which it will be possible to obtain not only machine translation, but also human translation.

Human translation will be facilitated between customers and translators who are willing to work either as volunteers or for a fee. The platform will be backed by Google's machine translation and linguistic data.

What is your reaction? Will it affect your business? What does this mean to you?

Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

Thanks,

Andre Pellet
COO
ProZ.com






rad 2008-08-07 18:48]


[Redigerad 2008-08-07 18:56]


 

Assem Mazloum  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:19
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I wonder Aug 7, 2008

Hello Andre,
Valuable point indeed.
This action might affect our business in terms of contacting new clients, however, as for the clients we already have, I don’t see major changes in the relation due to mutual already built trust and long cooperation, but this, creates the need to supply better services, and also highlights the need for a bigger role of our PR departments.
Besides, free work “volunteers”?!... Never heard of high quality “free work”, you?!
I thi
... See more
Hello Andre,
Valuable point indeed.
This action might affect our business in terms of contacting new clients, however, as for the clients we already have, I don’t see major changes in the relation due to mutual already built trust and long cooperation, but this, creates the need to supply better services, and also highlights the need for a bigger role of our PR departments.
Besides, free work “volunteers”?!... Never heard of high quality “free work”, you?!
I think only those inexperienced and rookies would participate, and as a counter measure Proz and similar sites are urged to put more effort into the activation of Mentoring programs, attracting more clients (service buyers), and providing high standards and friendly business environment; well, I could go on forever, but first, let’s see what our colleagues have to say.

Assem Mazloum
CEO-Owner
Go Global Services
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peekay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:19
French to English
+ ...
... Aug 7, 2008

Banbelfish II: The Sequel...

 

Bertil Andreazon  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:19
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
It will blow over! Aug 7, 2008

Once the novelty stage is over those who need texts to be translated will revert to their traditional and professional sources. The translators turning towards Google will somehow be connected with the machine translations that Google offers as an alternative and which are of a very poor quality.

Of course it depends on how Google are going to set up their translation services but personally I think that this is something that professional translators won't have to fear too much.... See more
Once the novelty stage is over those who need texts to be translated will revert to their traditional and professional sources. The translators turning towards Google will somehow be connected with the machine translations that Google offers as an alternative and which are of a very poor quality.

Of course it depends on how Google are going to set up their translation services but personally I think that this is something that professional translators won't have to fear too much.

This is my initial and spontaneous reaction before I have made any in depth analysis of the situation.

[Redigerad 2008-08-07 18:57]
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keystrokes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:19
Member (2008)
English
+ ...
Good and Bad Aug 7, 2008

First of all, machine translations never work--that's bad. With the help of human translators it could be much improved. However, no one wants to work for "free," and as an agency, I would not expect my people to work for free. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies here! I think the concept sounds enticing, but I think once everyone gets into the nuts and bolts of it (i.e., monthly fees perhaps?, quality assurance factors, etc.), this may just be a quick and dirty way to get tra... See more
First of all, machine translations never work--that's bad. With the help of human translators it could be much improved. However, no one wants to work for "free," and as an agency, I would not expect my people to work for free. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies here! I think the concept sounds enticing, but I think once everyone gets into the nuts and bolts of it (i.e., monthly fees perhaps?, quality assurance factors, etc.), this may just be a quick and dirty way to get translations done. I, personally, would want to hand-pick my translators, and because of the great relationships I have with all of them, I find it easy, efficient, and dare I say fun to work with them. They bring an element that Google couldn't never do--the translators know what I need. They know all the little nuances and right questions to ask to get the job done right the first time. I love Google -- don't get me wrong. But if it's going to be anything like calling the help desk, then I want no part of it!

[Edited at 2008-08-07 19:17]
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Ferguson (X)
Local time: 12:19
English to German
+ ...
A huge Mongolfier Aug 7, 2008

This looks to me like a huge Mongolfier - a huge ballon with nothing in it but hot air....

- First of all, there are legal aspects which I think will not work out for Google. E.g. confidentiality, liability etc.
- Second - no quality translator is working for free or extreme low rates
- Third - we all know the quality of machine translations, no machine can replace the versatility of human brains
- And last not least - how many times do we sit in front of a sentenc
... See more
This looks to me like a huge Mongolfier - a huge ballon with nothing in it but hot air....

- First of all, there are legal aspects which I think will not work out for Google. E.g. confidentiality, liability etc.
- Second - no quality translator is working for free or extreme low rates
- Third - we all know the quality of machine translations, no machine can replace the versatility of human brains
- And last not least - how many times do we sit in front of a sentence and ask "What the heck do they mean?" Which computer or low quality translator is prepared to do so?

For the moment Google has at least postponed its launch. If it will ever really be on the market, we should have a close look at it - and use it to our favour.
I will draw my major client's attention to it and make them aware of the high risk and low advantages which they would have making use of it.
Be it legal documents, manuals, marketing text, patents, websites or whatsoever - it needs a lot of experience and feel for languages, both source and target, for being able to transfer the meaning of the source document into the adequate wording of the target language.

Over the years I have seen many machine translations and translations from non-native translators or unqualified translators and may say this new Google gadget has no chance to replace good translators or sites like proz.com.
As B Andreazon stated - It will blow over!

Ingrid Ferguson

[Edited at 2008-08-07 19:39]
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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 06:19
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
How they will market translation will make all the difference Aug 7, 2008

I am an optimist by nature and I see this as an expansion of the power of translation and of the volume. I was there at the start of Proz.com and I remember how skeptical some people were in the business and look at proz.com now!

The Google Translation Centre will popularize translation and as with any popularization some downgrading is possible. It happened with mass schooling in every country, for example; we no longer study Latin! However, there is also a positive side. More p
... See more
I am an optimist by nature and I see this as an expansion of the power of translation and of the volume. I was there at the start of Proz.com and I remember how skeptical some people were in the business and look at proz.com now!

The Google Translation Centre will popularize translation and as with any popularization some downgrading is possible. It happened with mass schooling in every country, for example; we no longer study Latin! However, there is also a positive side. More people will know what translation is and how powerful a tool it is to communicate. The great difference to the industry and to the profession will be in the way human translation is marketed and presented by the GTC. Mind you I have not read very much about what they plan to do.
For example, it would be great if they differentiated between "grades" of translation (for comprehension only, for internal use, for publication, etc.) and uses of translation so that our potential clients would be educated to the various costs involved in different grades of translation. For example, they should present a machine translation next to a human translation and ask visitors to notice the differences.
As someone already said, I do not see it as a threat to established companies like ours, and to our clientele.

Paola Ludovici
Lexi-tech International
Canada.
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Sherif Tawfik
Egypt
Local time: 13:19
English to Arabic
+ ...
The human factor cannot be Googl-ized Aug 7, 2008

Dear fellow translators,

There is an essential human factor in language services that is manifest in "good quality" translations. A good translation is not the "algorithmically best-fit"; it is rather "the words that make most sense", and sense can never be bridged through a huge TM, no matter how huge it would be.

From a client perspective, I expect that not all clients will be drawn into this new Google phenomenon. We have to admit that some clients, especially that w
... See more
Dear fellow translators,

There is an essential human factor in language services that is manifest in "good quality" translations. A good translation is not the "algorithmically best-fit"; it is rather "the words that make most sense", and sense can never be bridged through a huge TM, no matter how huge it would be.

From a client perspective, I expect that not all clients will be drawn into this new Google phenomenon. We have to admit that some clients, especially that who require rapid translation of huge manuals/booklets, etc, might find the Google experience worth trying. But clients who are keen to obtain quality and readable material, especially legal, medical, literary, scientific material, will not find such a huge black-box - the multifaceted Google - an interesting thing.

It is hard to predict how this will affect the industry. By the way, SDL has said few days ago that it is expecting weaker translation business this year, although it achieved higher-than-expected half-year results. I am wondering what mugols like LionBridge would do after Google pushes its new Translation Center further into public awareness. Is Google competing with LionBridge? Or will they share the cake?

It is even hard to see that it will blow over quickly. As was just said, industry leaders will not leave Google, and therefore, a series of PR campaigning, lawsuits, etc will emerge, consolidating the marketability of Google's new service.

But surely, Googleers have surely done their calculations. Possibly, they are just planning to lunch a collaborative translation service, an expanded version of ProZ's KudoZ. Or maybe they do want to make a fuss. Let's wait and see.

At the end of the day, the power of the human factor in translation is what makes small and medium sized translation businesses thrive.

Sherif Tawfik
PrimaTranZ
GM and founder
Cairo
Egypt
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eng2chi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:19
English to Chinese
+ ...
Try to take advantage of it Aug 7, 2008

Because I have an IT background, I have always been expecting such a platform since I started my part-time translation career 5 years ago. I discussed this kind of vision several times in the Chinese Proz forum. But I always find I am the only person who is day-dreaming. I even consider creating such a platform by myself, but I eventually realize only Google, Facebook or Proz (or SDL) can do it well (*Facebook actually has a pilot project, calling translators/volunteers to localize their own we... See more
Because I have an IT background, I have always been expecting such a platform since I started my part-time translation career 5 years ago. I discussed this kind of vision several times in the Chinese Proz forum. But I always find I am the only person who is day-dreaming. I even consider creating such a platform by myself, but I eventually realize only Google, Facebook or Proz (or SDL) can do it well (*Facebook actually has a pilot project, calling translators/volunteers to localize their own website in a distributed way).

My point is whatever the nature of the Google Translation Center (GTC) is, either threating or beneficial, all professional translators or companies should seize the great opportunity and play the most important role in GTC.

I'd like to use the Topcoder.com and Wikipedia as examples to explain why and how a distributed and competitive & cooperative platform has revolutionized the technology and information world. Topcoder is a site where programmers can compete their programming skills online. They earn scores by solving problems, and/or challenging peer programmers. The winner then is rewarded with a small amount of cash incentive. Wikipedia needs no further description. I'd like to recommend a quite good book "Wikinomics" on the impact caused by such types of wiki-activities. I can state that from the viewpoint of an IT practitioner, socialized/wiki-nized platform backed by IT infrastructure and driven by small incentives (money or participation or fame), will change many traditional industries.

Fortunately GTC may only affect the translation field limitedly at the beginning stage. First, inhouse/confidential content/DTP cases will not go through GTC. Second, it may take time to balance the volunteer and professional in GTC, in order to produce high-quality translation and review. However, we may expect that GTC becomes a perfect platform for quick public content translation, like website localization. Provided that website number grows exponentially, we will see how large GTC's throughput volume will be.

As the released GTC introduction implies, GTC will not be an agency drawing commissions, but a free job post and quotation platform with online CAT tools. So I guess only Proz.com and SDL will face the most severe threat from GTC. For translators and companies, GTC is just a new option. Anyway, I think Proz.com can at least stand out as a winner for more years. After that, I still hope Proz is the best one.
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Ramesh Bhatt  Identity Verified
Nepal
Local time: 17:04
Member (2007)
English to Tibetan
+ ...
Every innovation has its positive and negative consequences Aug 8, 2008

Every since the march of humanity began, every innovation has brought in its positive and negative consequences. The man who invented the sewing machine first didn't declare his invention to the public for his concern that thousands of tailors might lose their jobs and earnings by his invention. However, sewing machine was brought into the market by another man, through its invention a second time.

Nobody can stop this process.

I don't think translators are any special
... See more
Every since the march of humanity began, every innovation has brought in its positive and negative consequences. The man who invented the sewing machine first didn't declare his invention to the public for his concern that thousands of tailors might lose their jobs and earnings by his invention. However, sewing machine was brought into the market by another man, through its invention a second time.

Nobody can stop this process.

I don't think translators are any special exception to this general rule. After-all translators work and live upon two general misfortunes of humanity, viz., illiteracy the world-over, and division of humanity into narrow fragments with each fragment speaking its own language, nationwise. If all people are educated and there is a world-language taught to everybody, will there be any need for translators?

Bulls used to plough the land, they have been replaced by tractors and other machines; horses used to drive the carts, they have been replaced by engines working on differnt types of fuel.

Ramesh Bhatt
Nepal
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Jacques de Meulenaer
Local time: 12:19
French to Chinese
+ ...
Google Translation Center Aug 8, 2008

Dear Andre and all,

Is this a joke to just collect information free or a real debate on a real threat!?
If its real then this project of Google is simple scandalous and a shame for a big business concern like Google to mess up with our business. The "Google Translation Center" will be a no-no partner to us because it will not only snatch our customers so easily as we are all using Google to contact our customers and other colleagues (it shall be a threat to Prozcom as well if
... See more
Dear Andre and all,

Is this a joke to just collect information free or a real debate on a real threat!?
If its real then this project of Google is simple scandalous and a shame for a big business concern like Google to mess up with our business. The "Google Translation Center" will be a no-no partner to us because it will not only snatch our customers so easily as we are all using Google to contact our customers and other colleagues (it shall be a threat to Prozcom as well if Google goes ahead with its "Translation Center") and topping it all Google will offer translation services. This is invation and harrassment. It can only make life more difficult and miserable.

Google should then also consider going into matrimonial business, mechanical, engeneering, construction, and invade all businesses so that the whole world shall be Google or Goofworld...why not go into governement...and to Beijing where president Google shall meet president Hu Jintao.!

Google should withdraw from such ambitious and destructive ideas and go for the more helpful such as building roads and schools in Sichuan in China where there are so many people suffering...instead of destroying ours.!

In so doing, the Google Translation Center shall be a threat to our business that's for sure discrediting the whole business of translation.

Best regards,

Jacques de Meulenaer

[quote]B Andreazon wrote:

Andre Pellet wrote:

All,

As you may have seen recently, Google has announced it will be creating a Google Translation Center (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10005605-93.html) in which it will be possible to obtain not only machine translation, but also human translation.

Human translation will be facilitated between customers and translators who are willing to work either as volunteers or for a fee. The platform will be backed by Google's machine translation and linguistic data.

What is your reaction? Will it affect your business? What does this mean to you?

Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

Thanks,

Andre Pellet
COO
ProZ.com






[Redigerad 2008-08-07 18:48]

rad 2008-08-07 18:58]
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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:19
English to German
+ ...
I see no reason to panic Aug 8, 2008

Hi André,
On a general note, I am surprised at the amount of concern - in some cases, panic - triggered by Google's announcement. Let's face it: here's a company that has enjoyed a massive bull run in its share price, followed by a rather rude awakening as the global economy took a dive, and the market started questioning whether this valuation is really sustainable. (A year ago, Google hit a high of USD 747 - its share price is now trading at around USD 480, trading at 31.5 times earning
... See more
Hi André,
On a general note, I am surprised at the amount of concern - in some cases, panic - triggered by Google's announcement. Let's face it: here's a company that has enjoyed a massive bull run in its share price, followed by a rather rude awakening as the global economy took a dive, and the market started questioning whether this valuation is really sustainable. (A year ago, Google hit a high of USD 747 - its share price is now trading at around USD 480, trading at 31.5 times earnings. Yahoo is trading at 42x.)

Taking into account the recent attempt by Microsoft to take over Yahoo, plus the emergence of a new competitor (Cuil), it's not really surprising that Google is scrambling for new applications. Whether these ideas are going to be successful is quite another issue.


What is your reaction?

A very relaxed one.

Will it affect your business?

Not at all.

What does this mean to you?

It highlights the value of specialisation: those service providers who are able to handle complex projects (and who understand their clients' businesses well) will not be affected. Those flogging their services at rock-bottom prices might find it harder to compete, though.

Best regards,
Ralf
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Andre Pellet (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:19
TOPIC STARTER
Great comments Aug 8, 2008

All,

Thank you for this excellent ongoing discussion - and thing there have been many points raised. Some of my initial thoughts were:

- Google doesn't really describe what type of translators will do the work. There is a large range between volunteer - and top industry professional.

- My own experience (as many of you mentioned) is that the customer management, relationship building, and understanding their content and objectives is key to a successful p
... See more
All,

Thank you for this excellent ongoing discussion - and thing there have been many points raised. Some of my initial thoughts were:

- Google doesn't really describe what type of translators will do the work. There is a large range between volunteer - and top industry professional.

- My own experience (as many of you mentioned) is that the customer management, relationship building, and understanding their content and objectives is key to a successful project.

- I think Paola Ludovici raises an interesting point, which I have seen other companies like MS discuss. Are we entering a period where there are different acceptable levels of translation? For example, marketing materials, legal, financial, medical devices - Requires the highest level of quality. Traditional manuals (for example) - a lower level. Finally, online blogs, FAQ, etc - the lowest level of quality. This would seem to justify higher rates for critical content, and lower rates for non-critical content. What do you think? Does the GTC open the door to segmenting the quality of the deliverable?

Thanks,

Andre
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