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 TIP #235   This tip was sent on the week: November 15th to November 21st 2009

Tip #235 - More on Translation Accuracy: Statistical Translators

Applies to: Text Translator, Professional and Plus Version 5

One of our customers wrote to us saying that, even though he thinks highly of our software, he was surprised to have stumbled upon a sentence which was translated a little better in one of the “free” applications on the Internet. The sentence was:

“El haber trabajado en una firma de auditoría por 6 años me ha permitido tener una buena base teórica.”

The Internet translation came out perfectly as:

"Having worked in an auditing firm for 6 years has allowed me to have a good theoretical basis."

We answered him saying that we have never claimed perfection. We have never even claimed better first-shot, automatic translation on all possible sentences. What we claim is to have a truly operable translation system, not a rigid translation engine you blindly ride upon, straddling uncertainty and without a single control device at your disposal.

In our case, the fault with the above sentence was that the word “firma” was interpreted as “signature” instead of “company”. However, this allows us the opportunity to test Word Magic’s Interactive functionality. When you make use of our Interactive Mode, the first thing you notice is that it directly points to the word “firma” and offers you three meanings for it: “signature”, “company” and the act of “signing”. All you have to do is click on second tag and the sentence gets fixed instantly.

The translation obtained using the Internet was “perfect”. But, how would a Spanish-speaking User know for sure? Or, how would an English User know that there were many other possibilities on the table? Only an Interactive system would answer those questions.

The translation obtained using the Internet is merely statistical (read: lucky). As an experiment, we changed a single word in the sentence, replacing it with another one having the same meaning, and tried it again:

“El haber trabajado en una firma de auditoría por 6 años me ha facilitado tener una buena base teórica.”

This time, it rendered a totally different meaning!

“Having worked in an auditing firm for 6 years I have provided a good theoretical basis.”

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