Machine Translation – Past, Present, and Future

With businesses developing in emerging markets and the increasing need for global collaboration, the demand for translation services is growing exponentially. It is more important than ever to make content available over a variety of languages in as short an amount of time as possible. As machine translation continues to develop and improve, it’s becoming an increasingly important tool for organizations with specific translation needs.

What is Machine Translation?

Machine translation (MT) is the translation of speech or text from one particular language to another, purely via software. It’s important to note that MT is different from what is considered “machine-aided human translation” (MAHT), which is a multi-step process involving “pre-translation” via software, followed by human editing. And of course, also distinct is computer-assisted translation (CAT), where human translators utilize translation memory software to speed up and improve the quality of their efforts. Machine translation, in its purest sense, is completely independent of human intervention. All of these solutions have unique scenarios in which they each can be the ideal solution depending on the scope of the project.

Regarding the development of machine translation specifically, there have been three distinct types available:

  • Statistical Systems– The machine learns to translate language by analyzing data based on statistical models.
  • Rules-Based Systems– This system uses a combination of grammatical rules. The translations are based on human linguistics.
  • Neural Machine Translation– Translation depends on a neural network instead of separate sub-components. According to Medium, this type of translation was established as recently as 2013 and has been refined ever since.

How has Machine Translation Developed over time?

Machine translation was first unveiled to the public in 1954 by IBM in New York City. Major improvements were made when the METEO System was designed in 1977 to translate weather forecasts in Canada. In 1997 Babel Fish was the first translation developed over the internet.

Recently, advanced software and artificial intelligence have made astonishing breakthroughs in speech recognition, language processing, and accurate translation. In 2016 Microsoft announced that their system for speech recognition understood conversations as effectively as humans. Adaptive translation seems to be on the horizon, allowing MT systems to learn from mistakes during the translation process.

What are the Pros and Cons of Machine Translation?

Machine translation is multifaceted and constantly developing. This means there are both advantages and disadvantages when using it.

PROS Machina translation

How can Machine Translation be Customized or Improved?

Current software can be customized to use a variety of industry-specific terms via human “pre-translation” of a subset of the source content. For example, medical records, legal documents like e-discover, or even weather reports can have vastly improved results by “training the MT engine” by incorporating some professional human pre-translation as a regular part of the MT process. A machine can be programmed to understand terms and key phrases on an ongoing basis to greatly improve its accuracy. This means the “system” can be taught specific grammar and terminology related to virtually any industry.

Why Choose a Professional Language Company?

One of the major drawbacks of using the free online machine translation services is that the information is never confidential. When confidentiality and quality are factors that matter, a professional language service provider is often the best solution, as they can easily assess and help determine the best solution for your situation. Dynamic Language offers confidential machine translation that can meet the needs of a variety of businesses and organizations.

When choosing a language service for translation or interpreting it’s necessary to find a company with proven experience and expertise. Dynamic Language has been providing professional interpretation, translation and localization services for over 30 years. Contact Dynamic Language for more information.