BIK Terminology—

Solving the terminology puzzle, one posting at a time

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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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Archive for the ‘Machine translation’ Category

A glossary for MT–terrific! MT on a glossary—horrific!

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on November 3, 2012

In the last few months, I have been reading quite a bit about machine translation. And I also took the opportunity at the recent LocWorld in Seattle and the ATA conference in San Diego to attend sessions on MT.

In Seattle, TAUS presented several real-world examples of what can today be done with the Moses engine. It was refreshing to hear from experts on statistical MT that terminology matters, since that camp, at least at MS, had largely been ignorant to terminology management in the past. Here are a number of worthwhile tutorials on the TAUS site for those who’d like to stay abreast of developments. JDE translation UI

At the ATA, the usual suspects, Laurie Gerber, Rubén de la Fuente, and Mike Dillinger, outdid each other once again in debunking the myth around MT. When fears did come up in the audience about MT and its effects, I had to think of a little story:

In the mid-90s, five of us German translators at J.D. Edwards were huddled in a conference room for some training. Something or someone was terribly delayed, and while chatting we all started catching up on the translation quota due that day. You know what that involved? It involved finding a string that came up 500 to 800 times. After translating it once, you could continue your chat and hit enter 500 to 800 times. See the screen print of the translation software to the right and you will realize that the software didn’t allow a human to translate like a human; we translated like machines, only worse because…oops, the 800 strings are through and you are on to the next source string. Some would call this negligent behavior and I am glad that today we have better translation software and that machines assist with or do the jobs that we are not good with.

Here is an example of where MT should not have been used. Those of you who know German, check out this text translated by MT and you will recognize very easily that, oops, it doesn’t make sense to have a glossary translated by a machine, least of all if there is no post-editing.

Posted in Events, Machine translation | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

ATA impressions

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on November 22, 2011

Microsoft ClipArt

I have traveled quite a bit during the last four weeks and it is high time for an update. Let me start with a review of yet another great conference of the American Translators Association in Boston.

At last year’s ATA conference in Denver, I was still stunned because the Association still seemed to catch up with technology and the opportunity to embrace machine translation. This year, I saw something completely differently. Mike Dillinger gave a well attended, entertaining and educational seminar on machine translation. He certainly lived up to his promise of showing “what the translator’s role is in this new business model.”

It was so clear that editing for MT is a market segment on the rise, if not during Mike’s seminar, then during Laurie Gerber’s presentation on the specifics of editing machine translation output. She also shared tips on how to educate “over-optimistic clients”. You add to that Jost Zetzsche’s presentation on dealing with that flood of data, and the puzzle pieces start forming a picture of new skills and new jobs.

Microsoft ClipArtJost’s presentation is very much in line with an article by Detlef Reineke and Christian Galinski in eDITion, the publication of the German Terminology Association, DTT, about the flood of terminology in our future (“Vor uns die Terminologieflut”). To stem the flood, it helps to think of “data,” as Jost did, rather than texts, documents or even segments. He also declared the glossary outdated and announced a bright future for terminology databases. To think about texts, documents, segments, concepts and terms as data is helpful in the sense that data along with solid corresponding metadata have a higher reuse value, if you will, than unmanaged translation memories or the final translation product. That has been terminologists’ message for a long time.

I also attended sessions on translation education, one by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one by New York University. Since I will be working with the Translation Center of the University of Illinois on a small research project and am currently preparing the online terminology course that will be part of the M.S. at NYU starting this spring, it was nice to meet my colleagues in person.

Posted in Events, Machine translation | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Gerunds, oh how we love them

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on December 9, 2010

Well, actually we do. They are an important part of the English language. But more often than not do they get used incorrectly in writing and, what’s worse, documented incorrectly in terminology entries.

I have been asked at least a few times by content publishers whether they can use gerunds or whether a gerund would present a problem for translators. It doesn’t present a problem for translators, since translators do not work word for word or term for term (see this earlier posting). They must understand the meaning of the semantic unit in the source text and then render the same meaning in the target language, no matter the part of speech they choose.

It is a different issue with machine translation. There is quite a bit of research in this area of natural language processing. Gerunds, for example, don’t exist in the German language (see Interaction between syntax and semantics: The case of gerund translation ). But more importantly, gerunds can express multiple meanings and function as verbs or nouns (see this article by Rafael Guzmán). Therefore, human translators have to make choices. They are capable of that. Machines are not. If you are writing for machine translation and your style guide tells you to avoid gerunds, you should comply.

Because gerunds express multiple meanings, they are also interesting for those of us with a terminologist function. I believe they are the single biggest source of mistakes I have seen in my 14 years as corporate terminologist. Here are a few examples.

Example 1:

Example 2:

image

image

In Example 1, it is clear that logging refers to a process. The first instance could be part of the name of a functionality, which, as the first instance in Example 2 shows, can be activated. In the second instance (“unlike logging”) is not quite clear what is meant. I have seen logging used as a synonym to the noun log, i.e. the result of logging. But here, it probably refers to the process or the functionality.

It matters what the term refers to; it matters to the consumer of the text, the translator, who is really the most critical reader, and it matters when the concepts are entered in the terminology database. It would probably be clearest if the following terms were documented:

  • logging = The process of recording actions that take place on a computer, network, or system. (Microsoft Language Portal)
  • logging; log = A record of transactions or events that take place within an IT managed environment. (Microsoft Language Portal)
  • Process Monitoring logging = The functionality that allows users to …(BIK based on context)
  • log = To record transactions or events that take place on a computer, network or system. (BIK based on Microsoft Language Portal).

Another example of an –ing form that has caused confusion in the past is the term backflushing. A colleague insisted that it be documented as a verb. To backflush, the backflushing method or a backflush are curious terms, no doubt (for an explanation see Inventoryos.com). But we still must list them in canonical form and with the appropriate definition. Why? Well, for one thing, anything less than precise causes more harm than good even in a monolingual environment. But what is a translator or target terminologist to do with an entry where the term indicates that it is an adjective, the definition, starts with “A method that…”, and the Part of Speech says Verb? Hopefully, they complain, but if they don’t and simply make a decision, it’ll lead to errors. Human translators might just be confused, but the MT engine won’t recognize the mistake.

So, the answer to the question: “Can I use gerunds?” is, yes, you can. But be sure you know exactly what the gerund stands for. The process or the result? If it is used as a verb, document it in its canonical form. Otherwise, there is trouble.

Posted in Content publisher, Interesting terms, Machine translation, Setting up entries, Translator | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Machine translation and excellence

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on November 2, 2010

What does machine translation do in a blog on terminology management? And how on earth can MT and excellence appear in the same sentence? Terminology management is one of the cornerstones of MT. And excellence isn’t tied to a technology, it is tied to you!

Click on the ATA logo to visit the official website.After a seven-year hiatus, I finally joined my friends in the American Translators Association again this year. And last week, I was in my former US hometown of Denver at the annual conference of the ATA. I was surprised about a couple of things.

For one, the profession has matured incredibly since I last attended the conference in Phoenix 2003. The number of government representatives who attended and spoke coherently about the field bears witness to that. There was great news coverage. But most of all, I could sense a different attitude among attendees many of whom I have known since I first joined the ATA in 1996: There is pride in what we do and the courage to stand up for it!

The other surprise was that this apparently was the first time a real interaction between representatives of human AND machine translation took place (“Man vs. Machine,” a panel discussion of representatives from both camps moderated by Jost Zetzsche). That is stunning to me, since I spent the last six years in an environment where MT is routine.

As terminologist, I look at MT as an opportunity for cooperation. In fact, it was Microsoft Research, where machine translation research is located within Microsoft, who declined, when we first suggested collaboration years ago. It made sense to us to supply well-researched terms and appellations to support MT. Terminology from Term Studio has since been integrated into the MT process at Microsoft.

I suppose it is fear that still seems to have a hold on translators. It might be the fear of losing market share, of needing to change to more tools or automation, or of failing with clients. Let’s go through this one by one.

In my mind, there is one market for translation; we could even say one market for content production in target and/or source languages. This market consists of different segments, and we, as language professionals, have a choice on where we want to play. The segments are not strictly delimited, meaning a translator could move between them, but let’s focus on the following three.

    • A Chris Durban, who represented human translators in the panel discussion and who is serving the high-end translation market (marketing, financial reports, etc.), chooses to stay away from automation. I venture to say that her work is better carried out without automation. The key is that she achieves excellence in what she does. And she asks to be paid for it, and paid well.
    • Another translator might choose to focus on the high-volume market of manuals and handbooks in a particular industry. He will work with what Jost Zetzsche calls translation environment tools, short TEnTs. That will enable him to produce higher volumes than Chris, but with equal excellence.
    • And then there are those, such as the translators at PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization, who post-edit machine translation output. Again, they have a different environment, but they do what they do successfully, because they strive to do it well.

At times, an individual might choose to stay in the segment they are in or to make a transition into another segment, which requires flexibility and diligence. If you thought you could get away with less than hard work, you might have chosen the wrong profession (or planet, for that matter). I believe in that, but I also believe in the fun and gratification that comes from delivering excellence.

The last point is working with clients. The need for client education is high. The ATA has contributed a lot in that area. If you are a member, just check out all the different resources available to us. True, it is tough to do client education when you are making a living being paid only for the word in the translation. It takes skill to find the right balance. Nonetheless, clients must be informed about what they ask for, especially those who say that “quality doesn’t matter,” because very likely they have no clue. Once you have done your duty and the client still insists on some form of “quick and dirty,” you can always say no to the job. I saw projects not succeed despite warnings and suggestions. But it is not the end of the world when someone insists on, say, machine translation without preparatory or complementary work and then fails with their own customers. You could consider it self-education. You just don’t want to be in the middle of it.

In my experience, if we aim for excellence, we will be financially successful and professionally gratified. Then, it doesn’t matter so much whether we chose “pure human translation”, decide on some form of translation automation environment, or focus completely on terminology management.

Posted in Events, Machine translation, Translator | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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