About ‘The President More’

14 may About ‘The President More’

Last week saw news of the dirty trick that Google’s translation tool played on the new president of the Generalitat, Artur Mas.

It is yet another example of the incidents we have become used to with the indiscriminate use of automated translation technology.

Nobody doubts how useful automatic translation can be in meeting many everyday communication needs, especially in overcoming language barriers. Nevertheless, it is common knowledge that, for some uses, the potential of automated translation tools must be complemented by certain tasks and preventative adjustments in order to optimise the result of the automated process (speed, cost savings, etc.) and also minimise the margin for error.

A lot of production processes currently rely on automatic translation to generate multilingual content. Systems similar to the one behind the incident in question are used every day to generate thousands and thousands of pages in different languages: newspapers, web content, teaching materials, legal rulings, legislative texts, publicity materials, administrative texts, etc. However, adequate measures must be put in place in all of these processes to reduce the margin for error (particularly more visible errors such as neutralising the gender of proper nouns and brand names in Spanish), including post-editing procedures and filters to resolve incorrect patterns, etc.

It is therefore advisable to be very aware that automatic translation technology helps but should be considered a link in a chain that must also involve the preliminary tasks of customising the system to the client’s needs and implementing it within the parameters for which it has been designed, as well as post-process tasks such as post-editing and system feedback.

So it is very important that, before deciding which type of technology is appropriate for a certain project, we understand the tools that this technology offers in order to ensure that we have control of the whole process: before, during and after automatic translation. That way, we can guarantee continuous growth in our production process both economically and in terms of minimising risks and errors.