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Re: [atlarge-discuss] Translation issues

Judyth and all stakeholders or other interested parties and members,

  Lets say that your hope is only to a small degree met.  I shall try again
to clarify and correct some misconceptions you and other members
may have on this subject area as well as some of what has thus far
been in some detail and at some length been put forward...
(See more comments to Judyth's statements in response to mine below )

espresso@e-scape.net wrote:

> I realize some of you may be bored by this discussion but I do feel a need to clarify some of the issues again...for the last time, I hope.
> At 21:02 -0700 2002/08/18, Jeff Williams wrote:
> [me] >> 2) translation memory programs, which in effect match
> >>words or expressions in a document against a database of
> >>previous translations; the results of processing a document
> >>with a TM depend very much on the extent and quality of the
> >>database, and at best require a lot more than "proofreading"
> >>for "small errors" -- more like a systematic line-by-line edit
> >>of the material which, in my experience, takes almost as much
> >>time and effort as translating the whole thing in the first
> >>place.
> >
> >  Yo are right that this is one such category and that the accuracy of the
> >comparison database is if primary interest.  However your conclusion as
> >additional personal opinion is not broadly shared.  For instance this
> >type of translation software system is what is used by the UN, and works
> >very well for them...
> TM software can work extremely well in any organization where there are teams of highly-skilled terminologists and translators who prepare the databases and edit the results in parallel with the originals.

  Not actually true.  The UN and about 68 of the consulates that we have
had the privilege and pleasant experience to have delt with using the
same or compatible Software Translation facilities that the UN uses
for contractual and common communications have no such "Teams"
of terminologists.  Most have only two or three on staff and only
the larger consulates have a significant number as these Translation
facilities have themselves facilitated a reduction for such "Teams"
that only a few states, including the US, had needed in the
past (Quite some time ago now) for such translations of various
documents and the spoken word...

> The problem is that, while the UN and similar organizations understand translation issues well and make sure the process is handled so as to produce accurate, well-written results, most of the organizations using TMs don't.

  This may be true, but it is not necessary to be so as the UN does offer
aid in this area for every member countries private sector orgs that wish
to accretion such information/assistance, even and especially for the less
financially progressive nations...

> Some simply don't understand translation and assume that for every word in their own language, there is one and only one word with an identical meaning in every other langauge, so they expect something like Babelfish or PowerTranslator will just make the automatic substitutions and everything will be fine.

  This is of course true for SOME, but that SOME is getting fewer and fewer
very quickly...

> This is not a rare problem amongst people who have never learned a second language. It affects a great many businesses trying to sell their products globally, and from my experience of explaining what translators actually do, I can help knowing most unilingual people do make that assumption.

  Good point to a point.  Indeed unilingual people or orgs do predominantly
suffer from a lack of knowledge base.  Many do because they have not
done or will not do their homework or stand by the belief that english
being the accepted international language should be learned by all.

> Every now and then, some English-speaking Albertan working for the Canadian government causes a major uproar in the Quebec media by putting one of those "translations" up on a government Web site.

  I have seen very few instances of this occurring.  None in the past two years.
Do you have some URL references of such?  My guess is that you don't
or don't have any of any real significance as it relates to Internet policy...

> (The most recent incident was at Environment Canada but there have been others, alas.) Meanwhile, English-speaking Canadians are offended when French-speaking people do the same. As a Canadian whose federal government is officially bilingual, I'm acutely aware that, while people get mildy annoyed by spelling mistakes or grammatical awkwardness, they get quite fired up when their language is butchered or they can't make sense of the information they need.

  Annoyance is a state of mind.  Such annoyances do not effectively or
significantly go to the understanding of the translation.  Hence I don't see
this argument as particularly impacting on ICANNATLARGE.COM
or it's members now or in the future...

> >> The exceptions would be things like spec sheets for 47 models of the same type of equipment, formulaic correspondence  containing only grammatically simple sentences, etc.
> >
> >  Yadda, yadda, yadda...   This is not only not a good comparison it is not
> >even in the same category either...  Such analogies/comparisions as a
> >argument in response for something you obviously seem to be adverse to
> >does not lend itself to being a very strong argument on it's merits or >based on this argument/comparision just above that you have not so kindly >provided...
> I'm not sure what you mean here. It's well-known by both translators and makers of translation software that, like any other process, you can save time and money by automating only when the process contains a lot of repetitions.

  In cheap translation facilities like Bablefish, you would of course be correct.
However that is not a reasonable or necessary benchmark...

> I'm by no means averse to computer-assisted translation: I just don't do that much work involving formulaic expressions and repetitive vocabulary myself: I find little help in having the software translate every instance of "the" into "le" so that I can go back over the results and change the right occurrences to "les", "la" or "l'" as the grammatical context requires, to take a very simple example.

  This depends in some languages like French and spanish as to the masculine
or the feminine.  Most GOOD Translation systems or facilities can check
for that by looking at the context and the tense of the sentence or paragraph
in which such terms are used and than make that correction immediately.
Babelfish is NOT one of those BTW.

> Though I admit my personal writing style is somewhat complex, I am all in favour of using simple declarative sentences where they will do the job. Back in my youth when I worked in people's offices, I'd have given my eyeteeth for a desktop computer (they took up whole rooms and cost thousands back then) which would spare me from typing the same boring words over and over again.

  Yes I worked on many Mainframe computers in my long history, and
and very much aware of their advantages and disadvantages.

> I was thrilled when they invented machines that would let yopu paste in boilerplate text with a couple of keystrokes or knock out a form-letter to dozens of people. But I do care about language -- clarity, accuracy and good usage as well as appropriateness for the destined readership -- and we humans can't say everything we need to communicate using only boilerplate sentences.

  I don't believe that I have suggested any use of "Boilerplate" usage thus far,
and fail to see where that is particularly relevant to the use of Translation
software facilities of various types for ICANNATLARGE.COM...

> Pick up any reasonably good book (other than something like a technical manual) in any language and read a couple of pages to see how many types of sentences, how many idiomatic expressions, and how many nouns and verbs are used over and over again, as opposed to recurring in different forms or contexts. Those working on development of computer-assisted translation programs are well aware that no existing program fully comprehends human language and how it works.

  Agreed that there is no Translation facility that will do 100% of any document
or written word accurately.  We already went over that in two previous
exchanges in this thread.  However that is really not the point as 80% is
done and is good enough for a first pass and than followed up by proofreading
to address the remaining 20% and at the same time cut cost to our
organization significantly..

> How do you decide whether a particular sentence calls for "say", "says", "said", "was saying"...? It's a very complex intellectual process, even though we do it without conscious thought most of the time, it's not easily reduced to yes/no decisions a computer can handle.

  Modern "Good"  database based Translation facilities don't just do yes/no
decisions on a computer.  This is I think were you may be confused or

> >  I have several years now of using several different types of >software/system based translation facilities.  They have been a
> >watershed of a useful tool in reducing the human impact of
> >translation of a host of different documents both of the legal
> >and intricate variety and of the less specific or intricate as
> >well..
> I confess I am not entirely sure why "reducing the human impact of translation" would be a desirable outcome. Cost and time are what most people try to save using these things. But the purpose of translation is to convey the meaning of what is said by a human in one language to another human speaking a different one.

  Indeed your point here is well taken by me anyway.  However cost effectiveness
for this organization is necessary as we are not that well funded and yet have
as a body express a need for such translations to various languages to
be very important.  Hence tools such as Software based translation
facilities are a huge aid and seemingly needed for achieving better
outreach and active participation by new members that may not
speak or read the English language...

> Computer-assisted translation programs don't understand either human language.

  This as you state it here is patently untrue.  And stating such is of a misleading
or lack of understanding nature.  I am not sure which in your case, but I
suspect it is the lack of understanding...

> They deal the statistical probability that a word or expression in the source is translatable into a given word or expression in another, with or without other possible translations which are somewhat less probable.

  In some instances or with a few less capable Translator software systems
you are right, but with more verbose or intrigate translator software systems
you are incorrect, and the UN amongst a large and increasing number of
NGO's have shown that your statement here is a bit less that accurate.

> They're of greatest help in documents where each word or expression has only one possible form and meaning, and is translatable into a term in the other language which is similarly precise in its meaning.

  Also not completely true either here.  Context checkers are included in the
more sofisticated and broadly used Translation software facilities...

> The Météo program is a perfect example: temperature, windspeed, etc. are expressed in a fixed vocabulary all meteorologists understand in precise terms in each language and use consistently for all weather at all times. Human intervention isn't needed once the terminology banks and substitution algorithms are set up.

  Yes but Météo is specifically designed for meteorological type translations.
As such is a bad example for general translations...

> When it comes to something like a legal document or set of bylaws, you simply can't do that so easily.

  You CAN and is it regularly done with around 80% accuracy by GOOD
translation software systems.  I have done it on at least 400 occasions

> The precise legal meaning of a word as simple as "sale" or "contract" varies by jurisdiction, and it may be further nuanced by the context in which it occurs, sometimes to the point where one needs to footnote a clause with an official translation of the law in jurisdiction A and an explanation of how it differs from jurisdiction B.

  Yes terms as simple as "Sale" or "Contract" also very in a context sense
as to their meaning as well.  So?  A number of the GOOD Translator
facilities handle this very well and for various context's as well as

> The words "administrateur" and "directeur" occur often in French bylaws but what is meant by them does not necessarily correspond at all to "administrator" and "director"; in fact, they may well mean "director" and "administrator" instead.

  True enough as far as the context in which they are used.  However such
distinctions are easily handled by a number of the GOOD Translators,
and it is done every day 100's if not 1000's of times every day...

> Which means you need to know the cultural context in which the source text was written AND the cultural context in which the translation  will be read.

  Well of course you do.  And again as I have said and is well and broadly
known the GOOD Translators handle these context's as well as cultural
nuances pretty well in most instances.

> >  No, not necessarily.  Some bylaws are quite simple in the
> >structure and use of language and terms.  ICANN's is one such
> >example, BTW.
> I agree with you there, and it's far preferable for bylaws to be written in plain language so everyone can understand them. Alas, that's not always the case.

  Of course it is not always the case.  However if the bylaws for any corp.
or org are not simple or as simple as possible in structure and context,
than they are normally and broadly considered a being nearly useless
or so complex as to be purposefully confusing.  Hence it is wise and
prudent for any org to not purposefully add complexity in their
bylaws or Charter in context of structure linguistically speaking...

> Some I've been asked to translate were written with such a lack of clarity that all I could do was query the client with "were you trying to say X or did you mean Y?" so as to render the right interpretation in the target language.

  I too have ahd to do this as well in english language bylaws and charters
on a few occasions.  Those are prime examples of poorly and in my view,
improperly written bylaws or charters.  So using this as an argument is
reaching to the extreme.

> >  I agree as close to 100% as is possible is what should be the goal
> >and at least a 95% accuracy would be minimal...  Hence using a
> >translation tool to do most of that work getting at least 80% without
> >human intervention, is a huge aid or assistance.
> More power to you if you find it so, and presumably one task less on my already-crowded plate.

  Well not to me, but to our members and the ICANNATLARE.COM's

> >> I presume the "TOOLS" you mean are things like Trados, DéjaVu,
> >Star Transit, etc.
> >
> >  No, those are pure garbage and not worth using...
> I'm surprised to hear you say so, since many of my fellow-translators seem to use them very productively on corporate documents or technical projects involving a good deal of repetition. Some claim they save as much as 20-40% of the time required to do decent translations... but, then, that doesn't include the time required to learn to use a program efficiently and to prepare the databases properly so it only makes sense for those who do a lot of the same kind of documents. Meanwhile, the number of translation agencies which require their translators to use one or another of those programs has grown at least 100% over the past two years -- again, usually those who deal in bulk quantities for particular corporations.
> >  Bylaws in english is usually easily understood by all native
> >english language readers or speakers.  Hence why in almost every
> >case that I have seen in 23 years of experience, I have not seen
> >more than one version in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.
> That's not surprising at all. Bylaws are ordinarily written for one organization's use, and international organizations are very much in the minority.

  True that International organizations are in the minority.  But I may have not
been clear enough for your seemingly specific need to very intrigate detail,
as is shown in your writing style IMHO thus far.  So I will add that most of
my 23 years of experiences have been with international organizations, or
international corporations...  How's that?

> Organizations which are international in scope usually take the trouble to have their bylaws translated carefully into their official languages so as to avoid regionalisms.

  Regionalisms are not all that important to any that I have had experience
with in my 23 years.

> The fundamentals of Canadian and Belgian French are no different from the fundamentals in France, and the same is true for the Spanish of Spain and Latin America or the English of the various English-speaking countries.

  I have had some minor problems with the regionalisms with different French
dialects as you indicate.  However I have not had any real significant problems
with regionalism in Spanish, or Portuguese.  None of our [INEGroup]
members to my knowledge have either that I have ask about this problem
as discussed some 2 years ago on the DNSO GA forum...

> Also, bylaws almost invariably begin with a "definitions" section which spells our precisely how particular words are to be interpreted -- good idea if you want to avoid endless debates on semantics from the more troublesome members. And members of an organization who bother to read their bylaws closely (most don't) always have the possibility of asking the secretariat for an official clarification if they need one.

  Yes and your point here is as to Translation systems??

> >Same is true in may experience in Legal contracts many of which are quite >verbose. For the purposes of ICANNATLARGE.COM I believe that the same >experience will be replicated, and hence any dialects in any of those >languages as well as host of others will be very unlikely save Chinese...
> I don't recall anyone suggesting the translation of our bylaws-to-be into all kinds of dialects, and I agree it shouldn't be necessary. I don't speak Chinese myself but I gather the difference between Mandarin and Simplified Chinese is great enough that we might need both.

  There are nine major dialects of Chinese.  We would need all nine I think..
The differences are significant enough as to do so IMHO...

> >> I also hear frequent complaints from fellow-translators that since their consciences don't allow them to turn in inferior translations, they end up putting in many extra unpaid hours to turn "good enough" into "good".
> >
> >  I suppose your concern here is really a argument of what good is as >compared to good enough...
> Exactly. If our organization is to be taken seriously as an international body, we can't get away with being less than professional in presenting ourselves, in any language.

  Good enough is professional.  Great is even better and should be what we strive

> >Although I myself can read a french newspaper without too much trouble,
> >I would in no way call myself bilingual as french as a second language.  >Yet I have noticed on Jefsey's France@large Mailing list, now dormant,
> >that much of the french used there by frenchmen/women was far less that >what you seem to call "Good"...  And that forum was a public forum.
> >Hence I can therefore only reasonable conclude that perhaps you are >overreaching a bit here...
> Apples and oranges, Jeff. We were talking about documents that represent an international organization, not quick e-mail messages and forum postings by individuals.

  No not apple's and oranges at all.  Rather an expression of am example
to you previous point as it relates to people in the real world and what is
feasible and comparable to what is practical...

> Most people don't write especially well, even in their own language -- it's a skill you don't necessarily acquire by graduating from secondary school or even a university.

  True enough.  Most University graduates in the US have an average of
what is considered a 6th grade reading level...  However you have again just
made the argument in reverse of what you seem to be adverse to, that being
Translation software facilities as being a good too for translation of documents

> Even people who can write well and do so for a living don't take the same care over informal writing as with something destined for print or a Web site. Most of the professional-oriented mailing lists I get consider it poor netiquette to criticize others if the note they dashed off hurriedly contains errors in spelling or grammar.

  Well some do yes.  However that is over critical and really just some group
or individual being picky to the point of being purposefully annoying for some
reason that is not related to what is being discussed or put forward...

> Most of the professional-calibre Web sites I know submit their pages to careful editing but Web forums are places where things are posted "as is" and everyone knows it.

  For the most part this is true...

> >I am only suggesting that translation software tools are and aid in >reducing the load on this burgeoning organization with proofreading
> >being reduced and turnaround on documents as something that is produces
> >a "Good" translation...  Hence either you misunderstood what I have
> >been saying, or?????
> Perhaps. I do know I've been saying that the use of such tools doesn't necessarily reduce the workload, and that careful editing of the results
> is likely to be more necessary rather than less so.

  And this is where you are grossly in error...

> Whether a translation was produced by a human, a program or a combination of the two, the time to proofread it is roughly the same.

  I don't see how you could say that.  I have done it many many times myself.
And it has been my experience that the use of a good translator save me
at least 60% of the time a purely human translation would when proofreading

> Proofreading is the final stage of the process, where the text is checked letter-by-letter and any last-minute formatting errors are caught before the material is published.

  Proofreading is an adjunct to, not a substitute for, editing which is scrutinizing meaning and style as well as form, and which in the case of translation usually involves careful checking of the translated text against the original version.

  That's right.  Your point is here as related to Translators???

> I am merely recommending that we not be any less careful of our organization's materials in other languages than we would be for our own, or less careful of documents destined for our Web site than for documents destined to be published as an official report.

  I agree.  But this was not your original set of arguments.  I am happy to see
that you have to a degree, understood that Translators are a good, useful,
and beneficial TOOL for doing the biggest part of translation of documents
and a the same time aid in cost effectiveness...

> >> We have amongst us people who speak many different languages at home but write in intelligible English here.
> >
> >  Hummm?  I thought you stated or have been arguing that JUST "intelligible" is not good???  Or did I misunderstand you on that???
> Nope! "intelligible" when writing a second language is more than most people ever achieve, and it took me about twenty years of hard slogging to be able to do it *reliably* in French.

  You must have been a slow learner in languages...

> But "JUST intelligible" isn't good enough for an international association that hopes to be taken seriously, and it's certainly grossly inadequate for am organization which hopes to form a credible international democratic institution with input into policy decisions.

  Well here we in part disagree.  What is the MOST important is that we
reach the ability and capability quickly that we can even perform "intelligible"
translations in as many languages with a few "Regionalism's".  Our longer
term goal can, and I think should be as you suggest, to be more than
"just intelligible" in our translations of our documents.  But first we must
crawl before we can walk in this area, as in many others...

> In fact, it isn't really good enough for a company or individual looking to do business with people in another country, or for a professional communicating with professional colleagues elsewhere. Credibility often depends on presenting oneself well.

  Just doing an adequate job in most countries except France and French
Canada, is normally and in my 23 years of experience more then good enough.
I remember in 1962 when Than President Kennedy went to Germany, and
in Berlin said in German "I am a Berliner"...  The German people and many
german based international companies loved him for it, and near to this
day have many in germany forgotten him and what he was trying to convey
by speaking in their language...

> >  Yes such minor mistakes in the use of language can cause such problems.  >But those instances are rare...
> I only wish they were ... and so do the many people whose marketing campaigns failed.

  Well they are rare, very rare as compared to those marketing campaign's that
most of the Advertising agencies I have worked with have conveyed to me,
have expressed when I query them on this subject area.

> >  Your contention that "no program extant really understands human >language" is a personal opinion that is not broadly shared and therefore is >of limited value...
> That is your opinion. I can only suggest that anyone interested in the issue do a little research on the Web to see what the professional linguists and artificial intelligence people think about the current capacity of computer programs to comprehend human languages.

  I also suggest they do the same and in some detail.  I have on several

> In our time, computers are getting significantly better at complex pattern recognition than they were even ten years ago but they have yet to learn how to understand what is being said in its cultural context, let alone transpose it into the cultural context of another human language.

  Not just from 10 years ago.  Just in the past two years the advances in Translation
facilities has improved dramatically...

> I'm not saying it will never happen, or that I wish people would stop trying -- just that even the very best efforts in that direction by the people who devote their lives to the subject (which I don't, obviously) have not yet created a single program which genuinely understands the whole of even one language, let alone two in parallel. If you believe otherwise, so be it.

  Oh yes I do believe otherwise!  And thankfully so I might add!  In fact I know

> Regards,
> Judyth
> P.S. especially for Jeff:  Since the members of the Panel all get this list and seem to be reading it faithfully, I agree with Joanna that it's not necessary to make sure they get duplicate postings. Personally, I'd greatly appreciate it if people didn't send me individual copies as well as the list ones -- neither my hard disk nor my access time are unlimited and I read well enough to get the point the first time. Unlike Joanna, I am not disregarding your postings yet but I'd urge you to remember that being rude is not the best way to persuade people you're right about something.
> ##########################################################
> Judyth Mermelstein     "cogito ergo lego ergo cogito..."
> Montreal, QC           <espresso@e-scape.net>
> ##########################################################
> "History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once
> they have exhausted all other alternatives." (Abba Eban)
> ##########################################################
> http://www.unesco.org/webworld/observatory
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Jeffrey A. Williams
Spokesman for INEGroup - (Over 127k members/stakeholders strong!)
CEO/DIR. Internet Network Eng/SR. Java/CORBA Development Eng.
Information Network Eng. Group. INEG. INC.
E-Mail jwkckid1@ix.netcom.com
Contact Number: 214-244-4827 or 972-244-3801
Address: 5 East Kirkwood Blvd. Grapevine Texas 75208

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