LINGUIST List 7.1038

Tue Jul 16 1996

Disc: Machine translation

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Deborah D K Ruuskanen, Machine translation (Re: 7.1022)

Message 1: Machine translation (Re: 7.1022)

Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 00:40:40 +0300
From: Deborah D K Ruuskanen <>
Subject: Machine translation (Re: 7.1022)
To all those interested in machine translation software that is
actually on the market. Don't trust it unless you are a professional
translator. I refer you to Monty Python's famous sketch of what can
happen when you don't speak the other language at all and depend on a
"translation dictionary phrase book". Well, the same applies to all
the machine translation software I have used as a prof. translator. It
works great when you yourself program in all your previous
translations, but a human has to have done the translations first. At
present, all of them take longer to edit into acceptable written form
than simply translating the text itself from the beginning would have
taken. HOWEVER, if you don't care about a perfect text and just want
to know what the subject of the text is, i.e. if you want to screen
texts to see if they are of interest and might be worth translating,
the software programs do that. They are also of great help to anyone
who has to translate a LOT of the same junk over and over (patent
applications, paper after paper on the carbohydrate chains in milk
fat, court certificates, etc.) they are a definite aide, a real
boon. If you just want to know how to say "Where can I find a doctor?"
go to a language class. If you need a translation done, consult a
human professional. The machines aren't going to put us out of
business yet. I will be happy to discuss this with anyone who wishes
to contact me directly - I don't know if there is enough interest on
this list to use the whole list, but I have seen five separate queries
on this topic on this list in the last six months, so this is a
blanket answer cum invite for further info. 

- Deborah D. Kela Ruuskanen \ You cannot teach a Man anything, 
Leankuja 1, FIN-01420 Vantaa \ you can only help him find it \within himself. Galileo
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