Moving Metrics to a New Paradigm

TAUS has always been concerned with the application of automation and instrumentation in the world of translation. Drawing from the wisdom of the ages, I found “Noxiae poena par esto” attributed to Cicero. More recently stated by Gilbert and Sullivan in song - in the Mikado - “Let the punishment fit the crime”. This article proposes a shift in how we approach the collection of metrics, where the needs of the consumer and the data they have previously generated play a more significant role in the design of a metric. Let the data drive the metric. When we compare factors driving the source generation in user-generated content (UGC), we see a disjoint with the traditional source generation processes. This prompts us to re-examine our expectations of the translation and the translation technologies.

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Clarifying Copyright on Translation Data

clarifying copyright on translation dataA world without language barriers

This could be a reality within 10 to 15 years. The technology is there. What it will take is a very large-scale coordinated effort between governments, businesses and academia worldwide. We call it the Human Language Project. The goal is to reach sufficient adequacy and fluency in fully automatic translation so that most of the world’s citizens can speak and write their own language and be understood by everyone else.

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Choose Your Own Translation Future

Choose your own translation future

Technology arrived late in the translation services sector. Now it has arrived, it is bound to change everything. In the not-too-distant future everyone in the world will be able to speak his or her own language and everyone else will understand. We are entering the Convergence era: translation will be a utility embedded in every app, device, sign board and screen.

Businesses will prosper by finding new customers in new markets. Governments and citizens will connect and communicate easily. Consumers will become world-wise, talking to everyone everywhere as if language barriers never existed.

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New Frontiers: Translating for Support Forums and Spoken Conversations

connectorAt the recent TAUS User Conference in Seattle, sessions were devoted to two application areas where technology developments are powerfully impacting practices: creating and managing multilingual support forums, and building effective speech to speech (S2S) translation systems.

Using machine translation to support multilingual online chat has an illustrious history: Compuserve successfully experimented with MT to drive a multilingual chat site back in the 1990s. With the rise of today’s MT engines and experience in repair strategies, product forums can now benefit from automation, as a panel of representatives from Microsoft, Intel, EMC and Adobe demonstrated.

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Buyers meet Vendors: Hopes and Fears on the Localization Trail

hands-contactMore connected, fresher data, faster time-to-market, more languages, continuous streams of words, more productive human resources, differential quality requirements, and more innovation: these are the changing realities facing the localization business today.

At the recent TAUS User Conference in Seattle, two panels – one for buyers and the other for service vendors - explored the pain points and growth opportunities in the translation automation industry in what is becoming a regular feature. The buyers included representatives from Adobe, Cisco, Dell, eBay, Microsoft, US Federal Government. The vendor panel comprised the chief executives of Manpower Language Services, Moravia, Sajan,, and Welocalize. And managing change was the leitmotif of both panel discussions.

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New Directions for Machine Translation

Research Watch

toekomstblueThis year’s meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) took place in South Korea. The long and tiresome flight from Amsterdam paid off in full by the exotic beauty of the JeJu Island and the outstanding ideas and experiments that were presented.

The list of companies sponsoring and supporting this academic conference is testament to its quality.  This list includes Baidu, Google, Microsoft Research, and IBM Research, among others.

I was happy to learn about the great work going on around the world, particularly research that is questioning existing MT paradigms. Here’s a summary of a few of the talks that stood out.

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Solving the Translation Industry Dilemma

In five self-help steps

solving the industry dilemmaCommunication across the world’s many spoken languages is a problem. The technology that can help solve this problem is getting better and better. But the professionals, needed to use and improve the technology – at least the vast majority of them – reject the technology and deny its advancements because they fear for their jobs.

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The Human Language Project: Inventing the Future of Translation Data

Sustainable Growth Series

toekomstblueLanguage data need your help! They are all around us - in the words we speak and write, in the files we translate, in the vast cloud of phone, computer, and network applications that we populate every minute of every day. But they still do not have a natural digital home - a simple open structure that allows our machines to help us make sense of them, reuse them, recycle them, exploit them for the greater good of humanity as a whole. In a word, a human language resource worthy of the name.

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Who Gets Paid for Translation in 2020

Sustainable Growth Series

Sustainable Growth

Google, Microsoft, Baidu, Yandex and Yahoo! are either getting paid or getting ready to be paid for translation through advertising revenue. Giving access to multilingual information increases their user base and raises cash. Lots of it. They are setting an example that many others would like to emulate.

Anyone who fails to see the fundamental shift in the demand for translation from the traditional buyer to the billions of citizens, patients, tax payers and consumers, is just scratching the surface of the vast potential for the global language industries.

The European Commission tell us that each EU citizen is paying on average €2 per year to fund the one Billion Euro translation budget of the Directorate General of Translation, by far the largest in the world.

We can rightfully say that translation is already being paid for in different ways than the word-price model.

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MT: The New 'Lingua Franca'

Review of Nicholas Ostler’s book "The Last Lingua Franca"


The glorious future of machine translation has an avid supporter - Nicholas Ostler, historian of world languages, President of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, and author of The Last Lingua Franca.

Following his fascinating and erudite review of the rise and fall of such world languages as Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Greek and Latin, Ostler’s new book leaves very little hope that English will maintain its dominant position in the modern world for much longer. Not because of strong competition from another language, but because of the growing linguistic diversity of the internet.

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Machine Translation and Asian Languages

MT and Asian Languages

Sustained healthy rates of economic growth in many parts of Asia are helping to swell the middle classes in the region. We can expect to see rising levels of demand for translation into and across the region’s languages for sometime to come.

It’s unlikely that we humans alone will have the capacity to satisfy such demand. Machine translation, with all its adequacies, will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in aiding communication and fueling cross border trade.

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