Wie gut sind kostenlose maschinelle Übersetzungen aus dem Internet? Der Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e. V. (BDÜ) lässt in einem Liveexperiment einen Übersetzer gegen Google Translate antreten. Mit Kollegen Ralf Lemster ;)
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.
Franz Och, research scientist at Google Translate: ”In a given day we translate roughly as much text as you’d find in 1 million books. To put it another way: what all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, our system translates in roughly a single day (…) We imagine a future where anyone in the world can consume and share any information, no matter what language it’s in, and no matter where it pops up.”
Wow. Imagine…What all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, the Google Translate system translates in in one day.
Of course this is a simplistic view, and of course Google Translate can’t quite do what we do. The job of a professional, specialized translator goes beyond simply translating words and putting them in the right order to make a sentence out of it. Of course the machine does not have the background and the technical knowledge to translate a specific technical document. Of course the machine is not aware of specific terminology specified by the client. Of course the machine does not have the cultural knowledge allowing it to do much more than just translate, but adapt to the target audience/market. Of course. And of course – and this is a very important point – Google Translate is one thing, it’s great to translate “I love you into 64 languages”but there are many LSPs and companies who developed (and are developing) their very own machine translation solutions, completely customized to professional specialized translators, with stunning results.
As a translator from the “new generation”, I am not afraid of machine translation at all. CAT-Tools always belonged to my job, I did not know “the time before CAT”. So maybe this is why I see Machine Translation as the natural, normal, next step. I am also convinced that the machine will never replace the human brains when it comes to translation. But I am convinced that we will have to evolve, that the translator’s job will evolve – and that we’ may probably be “post-editors” rather than translators in a few years. Just like when CAT-Tools came and many translators saw them as a threat, as a personal insult, as a danger, Machine Translation is coming anyway, whether we like it or not – and my opinion is simple: MT is not a threat. MT is the next logical step. MT is a very powerful tool that can really help us do our job faster and better. So why not adapt and make it our best ally?
Bottom line: Machine Translation is coming – it’s actually already there – and it’s getting better and better. Exactly how long will half of the industry pretending it’s not happening?
Just my two cents.
Anyway, for those interested in knowing more about Google’s projects and plans for the future of Google Translate, here’s the blog post from Franz Och on the Google Team blog.
Breaking down the language barrier—six years in
“The rise of the web has brought the world’s collective knowledge to the fingertips of more than two billion people. With just a short query you can access a webpage on a server thousands of miles away in a different country, or read a note from someone halfway around the world. But what happens if it’s in Hindi or Afrikaans or Icelandic, and you speak only English—or vice versa?
In 2001, Google started providing a service that could translate eight languages to and from English. It used what was then state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT), but the translation quality wasn’t very good, and it didn’t improve much in those first few years. In 2003, a few Google engineers decided to ramp up the translation quality and tackle more languages. That’s when I got involved. I was working as a researcher on DARPA projects looking at a new approach to machine translation—learning from data—which held the promise of much better translation quality. I got a phone call from those Googlers who convinced me (I was skeptical!) that this data-driven approach might work at Google scale.” (Read more)