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Is translation a field I can work in despite the rise of MT?
Thread poster: Andrew Dirr

Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:08
Serbian to English
+ ...
not quite Mar 7, 2018

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:

MT will never replace human translation for a simple reason: humans invented language to communicate with other humans (only).



@Alexandre Chetrit

I agree with the rest of what you said, but I have to correct you about

"humans invented language to communicate with other humans (only)"

Humans invented ALSO machines specialised in automated data processing and languages "to talk" to these machines (coding in binary, assemblers, higher level programming languages ....)

@Andrew

Back to the initial question: there will always be a demand for translations done by human translators [I don't count in that category trying to improve MT output - the way it's done it's simply a con job on both translators and end clients], surely for those translators that can do a better job than the MT output (easy nowadays as MT is roughly on the level of total amateurs, but as AI improves in some field it will be better and better - harder to beat!).

Human translation might be a "shrinking field" but is certainly not a "dying field" - surely not for those translators who care about and can maintain the quality of their output.

I wouldn't bother with any "translation/interpreting university degree" - waste of time (and money), far better to get a degree in the field you want to work - understanding the subject matter makes a real palpable difference in highly specialised fields, nice theories about translating not so much.

[Edited at 2018-03-07 21:15 GMT]


Jorge Payan
 

Klaus Hartmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:08
English to German
+ ...
Top quality will always be needed Apr 16, 2018

Go for it!

I very much agree with Cristine Andersen that one of the main risks are texts sometimes refered to as a "belle infidèle". I ran a few checks on deepl and am impressed how far they have got as far as grammar is concerned. But in a considerable number of cases the result looked very nice and convincing - but was still wrong, content-wise.

So, yes, you should get a university degree in translation (or in teaching, i. e. with a focus on linguistics or literatur
... See more
Go for it!

I very much agree with Cristine Andersen that one of the main risks are texts sometimes refered to as a "belle infidèle". I ran a few checks on deepl and am impressed how far they have got as far as grammar is concerned. But in a considerable number of cases the result looked very nice and convincing - but was still wrong, content-wise.

So, yes, you should get a university degree in translation (or in teaching, i. e. with a focus on linguistics or literature) - maybe considering some technical subject alongside.

And you should instist on very decent payment from the very start.

Quality has its price, and insisting on decent payment for high-quality work is what earns translators respect.
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 08:08
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
On demand etc. Apr 16, 2018

When talking about demand, it should always be talked about in reference to supply, otherwise just talking about it on its own doesn't make sense. In some language pairs supply is growing much faster than demand (ie. demand is reducing or remaining the same at best).

 

Andrew Dirr
Germany
Local time: 08:08
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Future plans so far... Apr 17, 2018

First of all, to everyone: I'm quite sorry for answering so late!

A lot more replies came in than I was expecting! I started to try answering them all individually, but then "life" happened and I was wrapped up for quite some time in other affairs.

Seeing as how so many answers have come in, I will simply speak to everyone in this reply as best I can: I want to thank every single one of you for answering and giving me your input! The length of some answers was totally
... See more
First of all, to everyone: I'm quite sorry for answering so late!

A lot more replies came in than I was expecting! I started to try answering them all individually, but then "life" happened and I was wrapped up for quite some time in other affairs.

Seeing as how so many answers have come in, I will simply speak to everyone in this reply as best I can: I want to thank every single one of you for answering and giving me your input! The length of some answers was totally unexpected. I appreciate it very much.

I must admit, it has been very difficult choosing a field because I have so many interests. If I could live more than once, I would study physics, history, music, language... I have read through the answers here and am almost at a final decision. In Flensburg (Germany), there is a university of applied sciences that offers technical translation and technical editing.

Seeing as how machines are beginning to make the translation of technical documents (standard formats, regurgitated formulations) a matter consisting more of human supervision, I am looking at going into technical editing. The university in Flensburg offers technical translation (German-English) as an area of specialization within its technical editing program. As a technical editor, I would be one of the guys creating and laying out user manuals for all kinds of products. That also goes for manufacturing halls in factories and putting the parts of heavy industrial machinery together. Someone has to write down how everything is set up and operated for the engineers. In many scenarios, apps and simulations are used, so I would also learn to code and program to a certain degree. I haven't made this decision quite yet, but I was in Flensburg for a week, spoke to the professors (who were all extremely friendly) and was allowed to sit in on lectures and group work. I was able to imagine myself there and felt good.

If it wasn't for that fear of losing the chance to do creative, more literature-related work! Maybe I'm seeing it wrong, but I feel like I'm the rope in a game of tug-o-war between the technical / sciency fields and liberal arts. I was hoping that this program in Flensburg could allow me to combine a little bit of everything that interests me: technology, language, physics. However, it's quite clear that the technical aspect would outweigh the others. I am still working on translating a 1,000-page book from English to German for a small foundation in the USA. It's on spirituality, was published in 1946 and hasn't appeared in German before. My hope is that this could be used later to demonstrate my ability to work in both the technical and liberal arts field. I simply worry that by choosing the degree of one side, I am excluding myself permanently from the other! I certainly don't want to do that...

Thanks so much again for your replies! I will now try my best to keep up with them so I can address things individually.

[Edited at 2018-04-17 06:44 GMT]
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Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:08
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
art vs technical stuff Apr 18, 2018

Andrew Dirr wrote:

First of all, to everyone: I'm quite sorry for answering so late!

A lot more replies came in than I was expecting! I started to try answering them all individually, but then "life" happened and I was wrapped up for quite some time in other affairs.

Seeing as how so many answers have come in, I will simply speak to everyone in this reply as best I can: I want to thank every single one of you for answering and giving me your input! The length of some answers was totally unexpected. I appreciate it very much.

I must admit, it has been very difficult choosing a field because I have so many interests. If I could live more than once, I would study physics, history, music, language... I have read through the answers here and am almost at a final decision. In Flensburg (Germany), there is a university of applied sciences that offers technical translation and technical editing.

Seeing as how machines are beginning to make the translation of technical documents (standard formats, regurgitated formulations) a matter consisting more of human supervision, I am looking at going into technical editing. The university in Flensburg offers technical translation (German-English) as an area of specialization within its technical editing program. As a technical editor, I would be one of the guys creating and laying out user manuals for all kinds of products. That also goes for manufacturing halls in factories and putting the parts of heavy industrial machinery together. Someone has to write down how everything is set up and operated for the engineers. In many scenarios, apps and simulations are used, so I would also learn to code and program to a certain degree. I haven't made this decision quite yet, but I was in Flensburg for a week, spoke to the professors (who were all extremely friendly) and was allowed to sit in on lectures and group work. I was able to imagine myself there and felt good.

If it wasn't for that fear of losing the chance to do creative, more literature-related work! Maybe I'm seeing it wrong, but I feel like I'm the rope in a game of tug-o-war between the technical / sciency fields and liberal arts. I was hoping that this program in Flensburg could allow me to combine a little bit of everything that interests me: technology, language, physics. However, it's quite clear that the technical aspect would outweigh the others. I am still working on translating a 1,000-page book from English to German for a small foundation in the USA. It's on spirituality, was published in 1946 and hasn't appeared in German before. My hope is that this could be used later to demonstrate my ability to work in both the technical and liberal arts field. I simply worry that by choosing the degree of one side, I am excluding myself permanently from the other! I certainly don't want to do that...

Thanks so much again for your replies! I will now try my best to keep up with them so I can address things individually.

[Edited at 2018-04-17 06:44 GMT]


re the art vs technical stuff aspect, let me just say that in the 20 years or so I have been translating professionally, about 1% of it has been artistic/spiritual/literature, etc. and 99% business/technical/legal etc. That's simply where the money is, unless you are a. an extremely gifted literary translator and b. have friends in the right places.

Michael


 

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:08
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
several customized MT systems in the automotive/heavy-machinery fields Oct 9, 2018

Christine Andersen wrote:
Technical translation calls for real, human intelligence too. I wept with frustration over a terminology exercise which was part of my language diploma. It was about car parts, which you would expect to be quite prosaic. I know very little about car engines, and it taught me that I should definitely hand over anything like that to the experts. You would expect each part to have a name, with an equivalent in each language... Forget it! It depends on the make of the car: Japanese, German, Swedish and no doubt Italians, French, British and all the others... I never got that far... are all different. Cars are not manufactured in Denmark, but of course Danish mechanics and engineers maintain them and talk about them.

I would NEVER trust MT with a text like that.



Mirko Mainardi wrote:
If MT were used in such cases, it would be with a MT engine "trained" with content for that specific client, including existing TUs and glossaries.


Christine and Mirko, two MT systems which have had significant publicity in various conferences in the 1990s and 2000s were the Caterpillar MT project for heavy-machinery and mining vehicles and the General Motors CASL and MT project. These were probably 2 of the most successful cases of MT. I worked on the Caterpillar project and almost got hired on the GM one, but they had a job recruitment freeze the same week that I was interviewed.

General Motors had a very refined MT and post-editing process including using the SAE J2450 evaluation approach for post-editors to give feedback on the quality of the MT.
They were both very customized MT systems with much investment in terminology management based on their specific brands.

There was also the European Multidoc project for handling automotive terminology in 9 languages, both for technical writing and for traditional translation and MT. Multilingual terminology management was a key element.

And I developed a 5000 entry automotive dictionary for a different commercial MT provider.

A common approach is to create a dictionary of 5000-10,000 terms for the domain (automotive in general) and then to create very specific customer dictionaries. The Caterpillar dictionary started with 1M terms, was reduced down to 50,000 terms then slowly increased to around 70,000 terms in 1998 after 4 years in production. The last I heard is that it was at 77,000 terms.

There were issues however when the technical writers used the specific technical term at one spot in a story and then used a shorter alternative of the term elsewhere in the same story. That resulted in translating completing different terms by the MT system.


 

Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:08
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
A published case study of using MT for business critical documents Oct 9, 2018

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
If MT were used in such cases, it would be with a MT engine "trained" with content for that specific client, including existing TUs and glossaries. Legal texts usually tend to be quite formulaic, so IMO they are also "at risk", although post-editing would still be an integral part of the process.

So, while I agree that MT should not be (en)trusted with highly sensitive content (and based on past cases I witnessed) I highly doubt this isn't already happening... (without the end-client necessarily knowing)


Mirko, my presentation at the AMTA2004 conference was a case study that I personally conducted on 2 highly critical documents in the telecom field. One was a pre-sales Response for Information for a major telecom customer and the other was a Customer Acceptance Validation Test plan for another major telecom customer.
These were critical business documents to the survival of the solution provider. These was not outsourced translation projects but rather handled internally by bilingual content experts in the company. We both had co-written significant amounts of the marketing and technical documentation for the company.
My conference paper described the context, time spent on dictionary building and post-editing.

The paper was published in this set of conference proceedings:

Implementing Machine Translation for the Translation of Pre-sales Marketing and Post-sales Software Deployment Documentation.
In Machine Translation: From Real Users to Research, Robert E. Frederking, Kathryn Taylor (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3265 Springer 2004, ISBN 3-540-23300-8
Here is the website that lists it as a chapter: http://www.informatik.uni-trier.de/~ley/db/conf/amta/amta2004.html#Allen04

You can read the paper at this link: https://www.box.net/shared/9o0s5izdip

Unfortunately, given the nature of the such documents for major customers, I could not publish the content that translated.

That is why later on I conducted similar approaches by using publishable content to show how a highly optimized and custom MT dictionary could be created and show the results of applying it in the translation process.

Like you said, these are custom projects and having a person who is an expert with the translation tool and also an expert on the content.

Jeff


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
derisive attempts Oct 9, 2018

While the machine now can write "like" some authors, using their vocabulary and style devices, it's but a one-way para-communication without a soul for ideas (not just antecedents, let alone subtexts) still cannot be analyzed. Shortly, the machine--namely a calculator--cannot feel, dream, or imagine something. That's why MT is relatively good for techy stuff, not poetry or prose.

Furthermore, disregarding the "global equality" trends, it's very individuality, preferences, biases, an
... See more
While the machine now can write "like" some authors, using their vocabulary and style devices, it's but a one-way para-communication without a soul for ideas (not just antecedents, let alone subtexts) still cannot be analyzed. Shortly, the machine--namely a calculator--cannot feel, dream, or imagine something. That's why MT is relatively good for techy stuff, not poetry or prose.

Furthermore, disregarding the "global equality" trends, it's very individuality, preferences, biases, and exp what tells the human from the machine. Of course, the machine is useful up to its purpose, yet not when some profiteers abuse it.

It's been a while since "The sky is falling because of MT!" tizzy, and it's ok till clients and translators use MT wisely.

Whatever they make to improve MT, it's still but a mockery of human translation, so there're always will be human clients

[Edited at 2018-10-09 19:11 GMT]
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