Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Machine translation and ethnic diversity

Roger Watson, Editor

When it comes to machine translate there are at least two fundamental questions: does it work? If so is one translator better than the rest?  In the early days of online translators many of us sought amusement in some of the howlers that were generated.  It seems that these machine translators are much better these days and are worth studying, especially on the context of research into ethnic diversity where language can be a facilitator and a barrier. 

 A recent paper by Taylor et al. (2105) titled: ‘A prospective observationalstudy of machine translation software to overcome the challenge of includingethnic diversity in healthcare research’ and published in Nursing Open reports an investigation to compare two online translation packages.  Translation of English into Spanish and Chinese was used to test the translators with some interesting results.

One translator was better than the other and Spanish translated better than Chinese.  However, in the words of the authors: ‘Machine translation software is not currently accurate enough to provide translation of documents used in research or health care and would not recommend its use without the involvement of professional proofreading and editing.’

Which were tested and which was best: read the article!

Reference

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