Should machine translation be reducing your translation costs?

Language professionals often hear people say, “in a few years we’ll no longer need translators” or “now computers can translate even better than a human”. There’s no denying that machine translation or “MT” has improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. Translators are well aware of the role that MT plays and will continue to play within the translation process, and have adapted their way of working according to changes in money machine translation (more…)

Microsoft’s New Translator App Challenges Google

microsoft translator watchNo doubt, the future is here: with the release of Microsoft Translator for iOS, Android, Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches, you can now talk into the little magical device on your wrist and have it translate whatever you said into another language.

Well, sort of.

The app, a challenger to the Google Translate app that’s been offering speech-to-speech and on-the-fly text translation for a while now, is reasonably accurate. But by now, everyone knows not to expect too much from machine translation — for every surprisingly accurate result, there are still too many garbled misunderstandings or out-of-context translations.

But how does the new kid on the block stack up against Google’s app, which has just recently added 20 new languages to its also very sci-fi instant visual translation feature?

Android Police answers this question with an in-depth comparison between the two apps. In short, Microsoft Translator offers a prettier interface and the smartwatch versions but lacks many other features that the more mature Google app has been offering for a long time now: offline use, live conversation mode, more comfortable copying of results, and the visual/camera translation.

As far as accuracy is concerned, the jury is still out. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with both apps — how do they stack up in your language pair? Let us know in the comments.

Why Machine Translation and Foreign Policy don’t go together

tom cottonWe’ve seen American politicians playing fast and loose with translations before — but that last incident, involving a specially targeted Spanish-language version of President Obama’s State of the Union Address — was strictly domestic.  Now, Foreign Policy reports on an international case of high-profile, low-quality translation of a, particularly explosive document.

As you might have, heard, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton sent a letter signed by 47 Republican Senators to Iranian leaders explaining the US Constitution and warning them about signing a nuclear arms deal with President Obama. The Senator also tweeted a Farsi version of the letter.

The letter was widely criticized as a partisan attempt to undermine the President’s foreign policy — the headline in the New York Daily News read: “TRAITORS“.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that the Farsi version of the letter “reads like a Middle Schooler wrote it”, according to Foreign Policy. Here’s an excerpt from the translation, as it would read to a Farsi speaker:

The meaning of these two articles of Constitution is that we any agreement related to your armed nuclear program is not passed by the Congress is that not anything more than an agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei don’t consider. Whoever replaces the president could remove such a chairmanship agreement with the movement of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

Foreign Policy suspects that Senator Cotton relied on Google Translate instead of hiring a high-quality human translator. It’s something we recommend even when the stakes are somewhat lower than international nuclear negotiations.