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Machine Translation, And the Future
Computers are being used in many areas to speed and automate tasks that are tedious or strenuous on human beings. Computers aid us in making our daily lives better in many ways. Computers are being used for a variety of tasks. As the world moves toward a global economy, communication has become a major issue of the agendas of almost any industrialized nation. Machine translation is the growing wave of the future; these machines can translate passages into another language almost instantaneously.
There are some that fear the professional translators will become obsolete in the near future. However, an exploration of the current state of the art and future trends indicated that these fears are unfounded and that the field of Professional translation will enjoy man years of stability and prosperity, reaping the benefits of an expanding global economy.
Machine translation: History and Current Issues
Future Research Trends and Projects 18
Discussion and Conclusions
But God confounded their tongue, so that they did not understand one another's speech, and thus scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city" (Genesis. 11:1-9.).
Since the earliest beginnings of human civilization, one of the key problems facing human beings has been how to communicate. We are a small planet of millions of people, all speaking hundreds of different languages. In the age of technology, it is not surprising that someone would conceive of the idea that a machine could fulfill this basic need for us. Science fiction writers introduced the idea years ago, with multi-language translators on Star Trek. These were amazing devices, they could translate hundreds of intergalactic languages from one to another with ease. This may sound like the far-fetched dreams of a mad person, but this idea is not as far away as one might think.
The world depends on accurate and reliable communication. The world is moving faster all the time and the demand for translators and interpreters is growing at an alarming rate. This research will explore the world of machine translation. It will explore its history, its current state of usage and technology, and finally, will take a realistic look at its capabilities and future. It will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of machine translation give an overview of current software and capabilities. The focus of the research will be a realistic look at the need for real human translators, it will answer the question, and "will all translation be done by computer in the future?" The Research will be conducted via a literature review of current technology and it capabilities as well as an exploratory survey of the current state of research and development in this lucrative area.
In the past, there was little need to communicate with persons who spoke a different language. Many people lived in small communities, groups according to ethnic group and background. The communities may have been bi-lingual, but communication was easy, as there was usually someone around who spoke both languages. People seldom ventured outside their own communities. Advances in communications and technology have sparked a movement towards a more globally oriented marketplace. In this new emerging marketplace, the need to communicate is at the center of the growth and this need will become and ever-increasing presence in the future.
It is now possible for businesses to conduct business anywhere in the world, with many people of different cultures and who speak different languages than themselves. In the past, there was a small market for translators and interpreters. Most usually worked for large, international companies or the governments. However, as the world becomes smaller and the communication makes it even more so, the need for translators and interpreters will realize an increasing demand. Interpreters and translators are experiencing an increasing degree of professionalism from a more educated clientele consisting of multi-language vendors of many sizes (Austermuhl, 2002). The Internet allows the small business an opportunity to play on a global level, a feat that was not a possibility in the past due to logistics. Translation companies range in size from large to the small, independent freelancer. Over the past decade, the translation/interpretation industry has grown to a multi-billion dollar industry (Austermuhl, 2002).
Demand has increased and translators and interpreters face a growing workload. Documents are often lengthy and cumbersome, even with the powerful word-processing and desktop publishing packages available today. In an attempt to meet these demands, software has been developed that will automatically translate a passage from one language to another. Some professionals in the translation/interpretation industry feel that this software is the answer to many long hours at the office and welcome it enthusiastically. However, there are some who feel that this software will replace them and soon they will find themselves penniless and out on the streets.
This argument is a familiar anthem in the industrial age. At the beginning of the 20 the century, many laborers in factories feared advances in manufacturing processes, much in the same way translators fear machine translation today. When computers first began to become standard business equipment, the same fear became voiced again. With every new advance in technology, there are always those who fear that they will no longer be needed. Realistically, however, these fears have always been found to be ungrounded in the end and the worker must learn a new skill, operating the new technology, but as of yet, there has been no machine that could completely replace a human being.
Advances in technology make our lives run more efficiently. As the population grows, they naturally have a need for more goods and services. Companies must find a way to meet growing production needs. Machines and technology gives us the means to meet and ever increasing demand. Many fears come from the fear of the unknown, and these are the reasons for the fear of man towards new technology. This research will take a realistic look at machine translation and the capabilities and possibilities that it holds for the future. This research will show that despite the fears of some, the current state of this technology makes machines an unlikely replacement for live human translators. The research will highlight the direction of research and development.
This research will be qualitative in nature and will be conducted by an investigation of the literature that exists regarding machine translation. The field of machine translation is in its infancy and there is not, as of yet a vast amount of information available. However, the goal of this research is to take a realistic look at this field and the possibilities that it holds for the future. The literature review will focus on the current state of the technology with hopes to gain insight into the future. The research will attempt to answer the question; "Will machine translation eventually replace live human translators?
There are many areas to be considered in a literature review of this topic. One of the key areas to be considered will be the accuracy of current software applications. Another issue of concern is the ability of the programs to translate languages that use different characters, such as Japanese and English, or Chinese to Arabic. The subject of syntax is also a major concern. These issues will be the key factors for determining the quality of programs currently available. Many advertisers are claiming that their software can accurately produce copies in several languages at one, or that their software is so accurate that no human is needed. These claims will be examined and placed in the proper perspective.
The thesis will surmise, that machine translation will never be able to fully replace human translators and that live human translators will always be needed. It is expected that the research will reveal many inaccuracies in translation by machines and that they will not have the ability to make choices and decisions based on the subtleties of language that involve human emotion. This research will demonstrate that though machine translators will undoubtedly prove to be a useful tool and timesaving device, they will still need human intervention in order to maintain the quality of translation needed in businesses today.
There have been relatively few articles written on machine translation. The topic has been a major portion of translation and computer related conferences and there have been several speakers on the subjects. The subject has not been given much attention in the mainstream media and when it has been given attention, most of the views expressed are not based in the realities of current technology and capabilities. They tend to give a rather science fiction view of the capabilities and do little to add to the factual knowledge base regarding the subject. This area has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the academic world, both from technology related fields, interested in development and from the translation/interpretation field as well. The primary sources for this literature…[continue]
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