Google Translate adds handwriting input for 45 languages

From Google Translate Blog, 24/07/2013

Last year we brought handwriting input to Google Translate for Android. Earlier this year, we updated Google Input Tools on desktop by adding new virtual keyboards, input method editors, and transliteration input tools. Today, we take our input tools one step further, by bringing handwriting input to the Google Translate homepage.
Handwriting input lets you translate a written expression, even if you don’t know how to type the characters. For example, suppose you see the Chinese expression “饺子” and want to know its meaning in English, but have no idea how to type these characters. Using the new handwriting input tool, you can simply draw these characters on your screen and instantly see the translation.

Once you have chosen your input language, you will see the input tools icon at the bottom of the text area. Click the input tools icon to switch to handwriting in the drop-down menu. You can then begin drawing your text on the main panel of the handwriting tool. You can draw multiple characters at once.

We currently have handwriting support for 45 languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Handwriting input is also available in the Google Input Tools Chrome extension. Other text input tools in Translate include virtual keyboards, input method editors, and transliteration. They are also available in other Google products, including Gmail, Drive, Chrome, and Android.” (…)

Source: Google Translate blog

New version of the MyMemory plugin for Studio 2009 and 2011

mymemory-logoThe SDL OpenExchange portal published a new version of the MT plugin MyMemory for Studio 2009 and 2011.

MyMemory has been created collecting TMs from the European Union, United Nations and aligning the best domain specific multilingual websites.

New features in the latest version (version 2.4, released June 2013)

  • Get matches from MyMemory Translation Memory and Machine Translation
  • Customize the penalty rate for MT or TM matches coming from MyMemory
  • Perform concordance search on MyMemory TM and MT
  • Save your corrected segments in a private or public translation memory on MyMemory servers to get better matches (optional)
  • Share your translation memories with your colleagues when working on similar projects (optional)

Philipp Koehn, finalist for the EPO’s European Inventor Award 2013

Phillipp Koehn Nominee EPA13TriKonf 2013 Keynote speaker Philipp Koehn is one of the nominees for the European Inventor Award 2013 (European Patent Office) for his advanced method of automated computer translation. The award ceremony is taking place today in Amsterdam.

“Fifteen scientists and engineers have been nominated for the European Inventor Award 2013 for their contributions to technological, social and economic progress. This year’s nominees cover the fields of medical technology, pharmaceuticals, optics, metallurgy, electronics, computers and LCD technology. The inventors originate from nine European and two non-European countries. The 15 finalists were selected by a prominent international jury from 160 inventors and teams originally put forward. The award is presented annually to outstanding inventors in five categories. For the first time, the public is invited to cast their vote to select the winner of the Popular Prize from among the 15 finalists. The 2013 winners in all categories will be announced at a ceremony in Amsterdam on 28 May in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. (…)

Philipp Koehn, Daniel Marcu, Kevin Knight and William Wong, European Inventor Award nominees in the Research category:

German computer scientist Koehn and his team at the University of Southern California invented phrase-based machine translation using a statistical approach. Koehn’s revolutionary method is being used by the biggest names in machine translation. It is also used in the EPO’s Patent Translate service for free machine translation of patents. (…)”

The invention in a nutshell

Thanks to Koehn and his team, computers no longer analyse sentences word by word but instead base their translations on whole sequences of words (phrases) to determine the most likely interpretation of a given text. Phrase-based translation reduces the restrictions imposed by the old word-based system. While a word may have several potential meanings (computers unfortunately cannot understand context), phrases usually have only one.

Societal benefit

Philipp Koehn

With his revolutionary method, Koehn has made some of the most obscure languages in the world understandable to anyone with Internet access. Today, most of the big names in Internet translation, including Google and Microsoft, have integrated his model into general-purpose translation services such as Google Translate and Bing. (…)
(Read more)

Read article “Letting math do the talking

Source: European Patent Office European Inventor Award
Pictures credits: European Patent Office

Philipp Koehn, TriKonf 2013 Sunday Keynote Speaker

We are extremely pleased and honored to announce one of our two keynote speakers: Prof. Philipp Koehn, Computer Scientist, Chair of Machine Translation at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics. His fields of research include Natural Language Processing, Machine Translation and Machine Learning. His research focuses on developing and understanding data-driven methods to solve long-standing real-world problem such as machine translation. Author of Statistical Machine Translationcreator of the Moses decoder and consultant to SYSTRAN (among many), he’s a renowned researcher, lecturer and speaker.

View his complete CV (including conference papers, publications, patents, articles and more) here.

View his Wikipedia page.


Inaugural lecture “Open Problems in Machine Translation” by Prof Philipp Koehn at the University of Edinburgh. Recorded on Thursday 21 March 2013 at the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics Forum.

Video source: YouTube Channel, University of Edinburgh

People who rock the industry – Erik Hansson

It’s time for the  January 2013 interview! with Erik Hansson. Happy reading!


 Hi Erik! Tell us about you (your personal/professional background)

Thanks a lot for giving me the opportunity to take part in your interview series! I’m a Swedish native (born in the city of Lund in the southern part of Sweden) and have been living in Germany since 1991. The reason for moving to another country? Well, that’s an easy one: my German girlfriend. I guess I’m just one of the many who at a certain point in their life decide to take the leap and leave their home country.

As I have always been very interested in foreign countries, languages and cultures, I knew as far back as my early teens that I would probably live abroad later on in life. I had English and German at school, and finished my education with a three-year course at a technical college with a focus on electrotechnology. After having worked as an assembler and quality checker within the medical-technical industry (with a focus on audiometry and dialysis) for some years, it was time to take another path, so I signed up for a university program in political science. Definitely a fascinating subject.

What were the turning points in your career that got you where you are now?

One of my turning points was when I moved to Germany and more or less by chance got started as an English teacher for adults. Back in the beginning of the 1990s, there was a huge demand for English language trainers in different courses aimed at unemployed adults in the eastern part of Germany. Around 1994, I started to do my first translations from German into Swedish parallel with the English training courses. In 1999 I decided to leave the training sector and focus entirely on translations. Over the years, my clients who once had sent me Swedish translation work came back and asked if I could also provide translations into other languages. This was the start of my agency business. In the new millennium, I got more active on different professional portals which meant that I got in contact with many new colleagues. With today’s social media it has become even easier to build up networks with peers.

You studied political science. How does one go from this subject matter to software and technical translations?

Well, honestly, that’s a good question! In addition to my fascination for languages, I have always been interested in questions regarding politics, democracy, policy-making and governance. Certain sub-disciplines of political science intersect with ethnic minority rights. This also includes everybody’s right to communicate in their own mother tongue. For practical reasons, my soft spot for ethnic minority issues is quite peripheral during my daily work with technical documents to be translated from German into Swedish. Nevertheless, I’m still very fascinated by subjects such as minority languages and bilingualism.

Tell us about The WinTitus Software Project.

Around eight years ago I realized that I spent far too much time just on daily administration tasks at the office, such as updating the address data for clients, creating quotes, issuing invoices and keeping track of payments. Instead of handling all these data manually, i.e. having one directory for addresses, another one for quotes and a third one for invoices etc, I thought about a software solution for this. Together with a programmer we developed a tailor-made project management software.

Since we started using WinTitus in 2005 we have saved probably thousands of working hours – one of the basic features is a database where we store all of the relevant data for all of the partners we are interacting with (translators, agencies and end-clients). When creating a quote in a certain language pair, the database can suggest exactly those translators who offer this language pair and work in this particular field. Generating a quote takes less than a minute this way.

If the client accepts the quote, we can quickly convert the quote into a job and don’t need to enter all the data again. Once the job has been done and the translation has been delivered, we convert the job into an invoice – and you’re right, it only takes a second.

Apart from the quick processing, we can also easily keep track of payments. It’s always a nice feeling to know if a client has paid the last invoice due five weeks ago when they suddenly give you a call and ask for another quote. Getting a clear picture of the client’s payment behavior is only a mouse click away.

Together with the programmer we are constantly improving WinTitus and implementing new features, such as individually defined units for charging (per source word, line, page, hour etc). There is only a German interface of the program, but we do have plans for other languages.

You are a DVÜD founder member and member of the Advisory Board. What are your tasks and what does the DVÜD do?

When we founded the DVÜD in November 2011, our motivation was that we wanted to place a focus, different from that of existing professional organizations, on our work. We might have the same aims as similar organisations, but we want to take a different road and utilize the modern networking advantages that Web 2.0 technologies offer, and this is a vast field!

We are at the very beginning of our work, but are already the talk of the town within the translation sector in Germany. In our very first year we achieved a lot, such as launching the website http://www.dvud.de and the DVÜD forum, offering free or discounted services from our partners (insurance companies, lawyers, tax consultants) and networking among colleagues. We also organize webinars on different subjects such as calculating translation services, generating quotes, negotiating with clients, integrating the standard DIN EN 15038 in daily translation work and many more topics. These webinars target young colleagues who have just finished their studies, career changers who originally worked in other business sectors, as well as experienced translators.

Our main objectives are to strengthen the professional status of translators and interpreters within the German economy and to explain our contribution to the export business. Another important objective is to lobby for decent rates for translation and interpreting services.

In our opinion, it’s very important to explain to freelance translators what they need to do to be successful in the market, and how they can act as convincing business people towards their clients, either agencies or end clients. Translators who don’t perceive themselves as business people can’t expect to be regarded as equals by their clients when it comes to negotiations about the rates. This is a key issue when negotiating with clients.

What is your take on MT and post-editing?

lapla_0503

Sending off a tweet from Swedish Lapland – always on duty.

Even if we still laugh at the outcome of some machine translations, we have to keep in mind that this technology is constantly developing, and getting more sophisticated. MT is here to stay, whether we agree with it or not. However, it is also important to know that this technology will never be as reliable as human translations as it cannot be used for any text or subject, and cannot detect the language style which is suitable for a special target group.

In order to get an acceptable outcome, i.e. to only translate the gist of a text, the source text must be written in a so-called controlled language, i.e. standard phrases and vocabulary. It is not realistic to assume that a high number of documents in the future will be written in controlled language and thus be suitable for MT.

The main question however, once clients have realized that the outcome from MT is not good enough, is whether we as translators will have the courage to turn down post-editing jobs, or accept to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for clients who use MT. In many cases, just as much (if not more) effort is required to edit a bad translation as that required to translate the text all over again, and the outcome is very often mediocre compared to a new translation from scratch. Those who decide to get into the post-editing business have to know how to charge for their services.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Act as a professional translator and get specialized within clearly defined fields; don’t jump on every possible job. Join a professional organization which has a mentorship program for young translators. Keep your eyes wide open for different webinars which will bring you further in your profession. Attend translators’ gatherings and establish a network with other colleagues. Take part in discussions on social media.

In your opinion, what does the future of our profession look like?

Well, I am quite optimistic about the future. We alone are responsible for the path our profession will take. There will always be a demand for translators, but we need to raise the standards, i.e. do what is necessary when it comes to networking, marketing, attending webinars and learning how to sell our services at decent rates. In order to reach these rates, it is crucial that our clients understand what translation work really means, and what the consequences of using MT or less qualified translators could be. There is a lot of work to be done

 Erik, thanks a lot for your time!

“Conquering Babel”

“Simultaneous translation by computer is getting closer”
From The Economist, Jan 5th, 2013, Seattle – from the print edition


IN “STAR TREK”, a television series of the 1960s, no matter how far across the universe the Starship Enterprise travelled, any aliens it encountered would converse in fluent Californian English. It was explained that Captain Kirk and his crew wore tiny, computerised Universal Translators that could scan alien brainwaves and simultaneously convert their concepts into appropriate English words.

Science fiction, of course. But the best sci-fi has a habit of presaging fact. Many believe the flip-open communicators also seen in that first “Star Trek” series inspired the design of clamshell mobile phones. And, on a more sinister note, several armies and military-equipment firms are working on high-energy laser weapons that bear a striking resemblance to phasers. How long, then, before automatic simultaneous translation becomes the norm, and all those tedious language lessons at school are declared redundant?

Not, perhaps, as long as language teachers, interpreters and others who make their living from mutual incomprehension might like. A series of announcements over the past few months from sources as varied as mighty Microsoft and string-and-sealing-wax private inventors suggest that workable, if not yet perfect, simultaneous-translation devices are now close at hand.

Over the summer, Will Powell, an inventor in London, demonstrated a system that translates both sides of a conversation between English and Spanish speakers—if they are patient, and speak slowly. Each interlocutor wears a hands-free headset linked to a mobile phone, and sports special goggles that display the translated text like subtitles in a foreign film.

In November, NTT DoCoMo, the largest mobile-phone operator in Japan, introduced a service that translates phone calls between Japanese and English, Chinese or Korean. Each party speaks consecutively, with the firm’s computers eavesdropping and translating his words in a matter of seconds. The result is then spoken in a man’s or woman’s voice, as appropriate.

Microsoft’s contribution is perhaps the most beguiling. When Rick Rashid, the firm’s chief research officer, spoke in English at a conference in Tianjin in October, his peroration was translated live into Mandarin, appearing first as subtitles on overhead video screens, and then as a computer-generated voice. Remarkably, the Chinese version of Mr Rashid’s speech shared the characteristic tones and inflections of his own voice.

Que?

Though the three systems are quite different, each faces the same problems. The first challenge is to recognise and digitise speech. In the past, speech-recognition software has parsed what is being said into its constituent sounds, known as phonemes. There are around 25 of these in Mandarin, 40 in English and over 100 in some African languages. Statistical speech models and a probabilistic technique called Gaussian mixture modelling are then used to identify each phoneme, before reconstructing the original word. This is the technology most commonly found in the irritating voice-mail jails of companies’ telephone-answering systems. It works acceptably with a restricted vocabulary, but try anything more free-range and it mistakes at least one word in four.

The translator Mr Rashid demonstrated employs several improvements. For a start, it aims to identify not single phonemes but sequential triplets of them, known as senones. English has more than 9,000 of these. If they can be recognised, though, working out which words they are part of is far easier than would be the case starting with phonemes alone.

Microsoft’s senone identifier relies on deep neural networks, a mathematical technique inspired by the human brain. Such artificial networks are pieces of software composed of virtual neurons. Each neuron weighs the strengths of incoming signals from its neighbours and send outputs based on those to other neighbours, which then do the same thing. Such a network can be trained to match an input to an output by varying the strengths of the links between its component neurons.

One thing known for sure about real brains is that their neurons are arranged in layers. A deep neural network copies this arrangement. Microsoft’s has nine layers. The bottom one learns features of the processed sound waves of speech. The next layer learns combinations of those features, and so on up the stack, with more sophisticated correlations gradually emerging. The top layer makes a guess about which senone it thinks the system has heard. By using recorded libraries of speech with each senone tagged, the correct result can be fed back into the network, in order to improve its performance.

Microsoft’s researchers claim that their deep-neural-network translator makes at least a third fewer errors than traditional systems and in some cases mistakes as few as one word in eight. Google has also started using deep neural networks for speech recognition (although not yet translation) on its Android smartphones, and claims they have reduced errors by over 20%. Nuance, another provider of speech-recognition services, reports similar improvements. Deep neural networks can be computationally demanding, so most speech-recognition and translation software (including that from Microsoft, Google and Nuance) runs in the cloud, on powerful online servers accessible in turn by smartphones or home computers. (…)

Read the entire article here

Medizinische/pharmazeutische Übersetzungen: Trends 2012-2013

Weather Vane with Dollar SignIm Januar 2012 hatte ich für das Jahr 2011/2012 folgende Aussagen gemacht:

  • Zunehmendes Auftragsvolumen
  • Steigendes Preisniveau für qualifizierte Übersetzungen
  • Soziale Netzwerke gewinnen an Bedeutung
  • Technisierung hilft, aber Definition von Austauschformaten und Workflows muss weiter vorangetrieben werden
  • Die maschinelle Übersetzung hat ihre Versprechungen bisher nicht erfüllt
  • Übersetzerverbände sind gefordert, das Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot auszubauen
  • Die Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche muss gestärkt werden

Den kompletten Artikel finden Sie hier.

Nachdem das Jahr 2012 jetzt vorüber ist und die Welt nicht untergegangen ist, macht es Sinn, sich anzuschauen, ob sich bezüglich dieser Aussagen etwas geändert hat, bzw. ob sich neue interessante Trends entwickelt haben.

Auftragsvolumen/Preisniveau – wir könnten zeitnah verlässlichere Daten brauchen

Die ersten zwei Aussagen für den medizinisch/pharmazeutischen Sektor sind meiner Meinung nach immer noch gültig, allerdings basieren sie nur auf Daten einer sehr kleinen Gruppe von LSPs, mit denen ich diesbezüglich im engeren Austausch bin. Allerdings nehme ich in verschiedenen Blogs und Foren zunehmend Stimmen war, die möglicherweise darauf schließen lassen, dass der Markt wesentlich dynamischer sein könnte, wie ich es von meiner Warte aus beurteilen kann. Ich würde mir mehr Informationen über Auftragsvolumina und Preise wünschen. Diese Informationen könnten uns helfen, saisonale und absolute Trends zu identifizieren. Anhand dieser Daten könnte man reagieren und die Daten könnten vielleicht auch dieses, teilweise hysterische Ausmaße annehmende, Hintergrundrauschen über sinkende Preise, das meiner Meinung nach der Industrie schadet, beruhigen.

Soziale Netzwerke/Internetkultur

Die sozialen und professionellen Netzwerk-Tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing und Google+) werden immer wichtiger und die bisherigen Übersetzerplattformen (Proz.com, Translatorscafe etc.) verlieren zunehmend an Bedeutung. Dies zeigt sich unter anderem an der steigenden Zahl von Übersetzergruppen z. B. in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, über die zunehmend Übersetzungsaufträge vergeben werden, aber auch im Angebot an Weiterbildungsmaßnahmen, die über diese Gruppen angeboten werden. Die Fachverbände wie z. B. der BDÜ sind zwar erst spät in die sozialen Netzwerke eingestiegen, haben aber inzwischen ihre Bedeutung erkannt und präsentieren sich professionell auf diesen Plattformen.

Leider hat diese Entwicklung nicht nur positive Aspekte. Als Freelancer kann man unmöglich alle Gruppen verfolgen, in denen interessante Aufträge angeboten werden, und auch als LSP wird es schwieriger, auf den verschiedenen Plattformen den Spezialisten für einen bestimmten Auftrag zu finden.

Es wird daher nötig werden, Aggregatoren zu entwickeln, die die unterschiedlichen Angebote gebündelt zur Verfügung stellen. Auf Twitter haben wir mit unserem @Translate_Jobs Konto einen ersten Schritt getan, um Jobangebote aus verschiedenen Quellen zusammenzuführen. Ähnliche Angebote bieten wir für Nachrichten aus der Übersetzungsindustrie mit @Translate_News, Interessante Blogs und Ereignisse aus der Übersetzungsindustrie auf @Translate_Blogs und @TranslateEvents.

Diese Lösungen sind leider durch die Möglichkeiten, die Twitter bietet, eingeschränkt, was einer der Gründe ist, weshalb wir für den Bereich Fortbildungsmöglichkeiten unsere Alexandria-Plattform (http://alexandria-library.com) ins Leben gerufen haben.

Technisierung/Interoperabilität/Crowd and Cloud Services

Im Bereich Interoperabilität tut sich Erfreuliches; die beiden Platzhirsche Trados und MemoQ bekommen immer mehr Funktionen, die die Interoperabilität zwischen den einzelnen Programmen verbessern. Da scheint es nur natürlich, dass in der Industrie in den letzten Wochen massiv Kritik an dem abgeschotteten Design von across geäußert wurde. Ich bin da etwas vorsichtiger, da ich durchaus die Notwendigkeit für geschlossene Workflows erkenne und mir eine entsprechende optionale Funktionalität auch bei den anderen Anbietern wünschen würde. Gleichzeitig würde ich mir natürlich auch wünschen, dass sich across öffnet.

Was ich allerdings nicht verstehen kann, ist, wie man als Übersetzer mit den wie Pilze aus dem Boden schießenden Cloud-Services arbeiten kann. Das ist eine TM-Lösung, die dem Übersetzer bisher fast nur Nachteile bringt. Kein eigenes TM, keine Nachverfolgbarkeit der eigenen Arbeit usw. usw.

Maschinelle Übersetzung

Ich hätte gerne ein funktionierendes System. Leider habe ich noch keines gefunden. Mehr ist dazu eigentlich nicht zu sagen. Aber ich bleibe dran. Interessant finde ich zwei Aspekte:

a) Es wird uns Übersetzern immer häufiger erzählt, dass es einen riesigen, ständig wachsenden Markt für schlechte (d. h. Maschinenübersetzungen) gibt. Das ist ja schön für diejenigen, die den Schrott lesen möchten. Beispiele dafür findet man im Internet zur Genüge. Das einzige Problem, das ich dabei sehe, ist, dass die Leser irgendwann tatsächlich anfangen zu glauben, dass das Übersetzungen sind.

b) Ebenso häufig höre ich, dass gut trainierte MT-Systeme inzwischen in begrenzten Domains und bestimmten Sprachpaaren Ergebnisse produzieren, die besser als die von menschlichen Übersetzern sein sollen. Hier ist der spannende Punkt, dass bisher niemand in der Lage war, mir ein derartiges System oder das nachweisbare Ergebnis eines solchen Systems zu zeigen. Im letzten Jahr habe ich mir von einigen MT-Herstellern erklären lassen, wie gut ihre Systeme sind, aber wenn es ans Eingemachte ging, gab es außer irgendwelchen beeindruckenden hohen Scores ohne Aussagewert nichts wirklich Bemerkenswertes.

Nachdem ich Trados Studio mit TMs mit mehreren Millionen Worten und Autosuggest-Dictionaries von bis zu 1 GB Größe aufgerüstet habe, erreiche ich eine Produktivität, bei der ich mich frage, ob ich MT für unsere Sprachpaare und Fachgebiete überhaupt brauche.

Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot

Es tut sich was. Der BDÜ, der DVÜD und auch andere Anbieter haben das Angebot an online Fortbildungsangeboten deutlich ausgebaut. Da mag es überflüssig erscheinen, dass wir mit einem eigenen Angebot (http://alexandria-library.com) auf den Markt kommen. Mit dem Alexandria Projekt verfolgen wir allerdings mehrere Ziele. Wir möchten damit z. B. eine zentrale Plattform (durch Kollaborationen mit möglichst vielen anderen Anbietern, z. B. Localize.pl aus Polen und Diléal aus Frankreich) schaffen, auf der wir Weiterbildungsangebote und Ressourcen für Berufsanfänger und Spezialisten in den unterschiedlichen Sprachen anbieten. Zusätzlich möchten wir Spezialisten eine Plattform bieten, die es ihnen ermöglicht, sich zu präsentieren, um ihre Reputation in der Industrie und bei zukünftigen Kunden zu verbessern. Und drittens möchten wir so schnell wie möglich damit beginnen, mit dieser Plattform potentielle Kunden auf die Notwendigkeit qualitativ hochwertiger Übersetzungen aufmerksam zu machen, und sie zu schulen, wie sie geeignete Sprachdienstleister identifizieren können, bzw. was sie dazu beitragen können, um optimale Ergebnisse zu erhalten. Noch befinden wir uns in einer frühen Phase, aber wir werden das Angebot schnell erweitern. Über Rückmeldungen und Anregungen würden wir uns freuen, denn schließlich soll Alexandria möglichst vielen Übersetzern und Kunden ein interessantes Angebot bieten.

Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche

Bisher stelle ich mit Bedauern fest, dass die Übersetzungsverbände viel zu wenig (öffentlichkeitswirksam) unternehmen, um die Industrie nach außen zu repräsentieren. Übersetzer und Übersetzerverbände scheinen mir bisher zu sehr mit sich selbst (d. h. mit Übersetzern) beschäftigt zu sein und gehen viel zu wenig auf mögliche Kunden zu, bei denen der Mangel an Informationen über Übersetzungsqualität, Abläufe und Preise dazu führt, dass sich die Pest der Billigheimer weiter ausbreitet. Es wäre schön zu sehen, wenn sich einige nationale Verbände zu mehr Zusammenarbeit entschließen könnten, und im Bereich Kundenschulung und Repräsentanz nach außen aktiv werden würden. Auch ein gemeinsames europäisches Jobportal der Übersetzungsverbände könnte helfen. Hier hätten Kunden, die nach Sprachdienstleistern suchen, zumindest die Gewissheit, dass die Übersetzer bestimmte Mindestkriterien an Professionalität erfüllen. Den Internetplattformen wie Proz und TC, bei denen sich die ganzen Billiganbieter tummeln, die oft nur schlechte Qualität liefern, würde dadurch das Wasser abgegraben werden, da Kunden auf der Suche nach Qualität endlich ein qualitativ höherwertiges Angebot zur Verfügung hätten.

Schlussfolgerungen

Ich bin mir nicht schlüssig, ob sich 2012 in der Industrie wirklich viel geändert hat, aber ich sehe einen vorsichtigen Trend, dass die Übersetzer langsam mehr Verantwortung für ihr eigenes Schicksal/ihren Erfolg übernehmen und sich aus den Fängen der großen Organisationen/Unternehmen emanzipieren. Diese positive Entwicklung kann 2013 dazu führen, dass sich eine breitere Bewegung organisiert, die uns als Industrie weiter bringt. Es würde mich freuen, wenn wir mit Alexandria und der Trikonf 2013 unseren Beitrag dazu leisten könnten.

Translation Tools Could Save Less-Used Languages

Tom Simonite – Wednesday, June 6, 2012, Technology Review (published by MIT)

Languages that aren’t used online risk being left behind. New translation technology from Google and Microsoft could help them catch up.

Sometimes you may feel like there’s nothing worth reading on the Web, but at least there’s plenty of material you can read and understand. Millions of people around the world, in contrast, speak languages that are still barely represented online, despite widespread Internet access and improving translation technology.

Web giants Microsoft and Google are trying to change that with new translation technology aimed at languages that are being left behind—or perhaps even being actively killed off—by the Web. Although both companies have worked on translation technology for years, they have, until now, focused on such major languages of international trade as English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Microsoft and Google’s existing translation tools, which are free, are a triumph of big data. Instead of learning as a human translator would, by studying the rules of different languages, a translation tool’s algorithms learn how to translate one language into another by statistically comparing thousands or millions of online documents that have been translated by humans.

The two companies have both departed from that formula slightly to serve less popular languages. Google was able to recently launch experimental “alpha” support for a collection of five Indian languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu) by giving its software some direct lessons in grammar, while Microsoft has released a service that allows a community to build a translation system for its own language by supplying its own source material.

Google first realized it needed to give its system a grammar lesson when trying to polish its Japanese translations, says Ashish Venugopal, a research scientist working on Google’s translation software. “We were producing sentences with the verb in the middle, but in Japanese, it needs to go at the end,” Venugopal says. The problem stemmed from the system being largely blind to grammar. The fix that the Google team came up with—adding some understanding of grammar—enabled the launch of the five Indic languages, all used by millions on the subcontinent but largely missing from the Web.

Google’s system was trained in grammar by giving it a large collection of sentences in which the grammatical parts had been labeled—more instruction than Google’s translation algorithms typically receive.

Venugopal says that, so far, the system can’t handle the underserved languages as well as Google’s existing translation technology can handle more established languages, such as French and German. But, he says, offering any support at all is important for languages that are relatively rare online. “It’s an important part of our mission to make those other languages available on the Web,” he says. “We don’t want people to have to decide whether to publish their blog in their own language or in English. We want to help the world read your blog.”

Microsoft is also interested in helping languages not in common use online, to prevent those languages from being sidelined and falling from use, says Kristin Tolle, a director at Microsoft Research. Her team recently launched a website that helps anyone to create their own translation software, called Translation Hub. It is intended for communities that wish to ensure their language is used online.

Using Translation Hub involves creating an account and then uploading source materials in the two languages to be translated between. Microsoft’s machine-learning algorithms use that material and can then attempt to translate any text written in the new language. Microsoft piloted that technology in collaboration with leaders of Fresno, California’s large Hmong community, for whose language a machine translation system does not exist.

“Allowing anyone to create their own translation model can help communities save their languages,” says Kristin Tolle, a director at Microsoft Research. Machine translation systems have been developed for roughly 100 of the world’s 7,000 languages, says Tolle.

“There is a lot of truth to what Microsoft is saying,” says Greg Anderson, director of nonprofit Living Tongues, which documents, researches, and tries to support disappearing languages. “Today’s playing field involves a digital online presence whether you are community or a company—if you don’t have a Web presence, you don’t exist, on some level.” Anderson says that sidelined languages making a comeback are usually those from communities that have embraced online life using their language.

Margaret Noori, a lecturer at University of Michigan who works to preserve the Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe, a native American language, agrees, but adds that preserving a language involves more than the Web. “There is a reason to be online in today’s world, but it absolutely must be balanced by songs sung only aloud and ceremonies never recorded.”

Microsoft’s Translation Hub is also aimed at enabling the translation of specialist technical terms or jargon, which general purpose online translation tools do not handle well. Nonprofits could, for example, use it to translate materials on agricultural techniques, says Tolle, and the technology can also be useful to companies that wish to speed up translation of instruction manuals or other material.

“Companies often want to have their data available to them privately and retain their data—not to provide it to someone else that will train a translation system,” she says. Volvo and Mercedes have expressed an interest in testing Microsoft’s Translation Hub, says Tolle.

Tom Simonite – Wednesday, June 6, 2012,
Source:  Technology Review (published by MIT)

Gmail now features Automatic Translation

After Google Translate passed the bar of 200 million monthly users last week (see here), it surely is no coincidence that Gmail announced 3 new features today, including… automatic message translation.

This feature originally comes from Gmail Labs (for those not familiar with the concept, Gmail Labs allow users to test gadget features on their own Gmail before they become standard features or disappear) and has been such a hit among users (particularly Business Apps users) that it is now an official, standard add-on on Gmail.

Below is the official announcement from Jeff Chin, Product Manager at Google Translate

Say hello (or olá or halo or salam) to automatic message translation in Gmail

“We’re excited to announce three Gmail Labs graduations today: Automatic Message Translation, Smart Mute and Title Tweaks.

Automatic Message Translation
Did you ever dream about a future where your communications device could transcend language with ease? Well, that day is a lot closer. Back when we launched automatic message translation in Gmail Labs, we were curious to see how people would use it.

We heard immediately from Google Apps for Business users that this was a killer feature for working with local teams across the world. Some people just wanted to easily read newsletters from abroad. Another person wrote in telling us how he set up his mom’s Gmail to translate everything into her native language, thus saving countless explanatory phone calls (he thanked us profusely). I continue to use it to participate in discussions with the global Google offices I often visit.

Since message translation was one of the most popular labs, we decided it was time to graduate from Gmail Labs and move into the real world. Over the next few days, everyone who uses Gmail will be getting the convenience of translation added to their email. The next time you receive a message in a language other than your own, just click on Translate message in the header at the top of the message, and it will be instantly translated into your language.”

Read more on the Official Gmail blog here.