No Longer Lost in Translation

November 20, 2010

As someone who worked for several years in South Korea dealing with the language barrier, I’m always interested in translation software.  I’ve found that Google Translate has gotten better and better since its debut, but it still can’t truly translate accurately.  Translation software still needs some human intervention, but yet companies need to automate as much as possible to decrease costs.

Two recent stories reflect the intersection the human and the machine in translation services, with the machine achieving increasing importance.  SAIC Expands Human Language Technology Offerings for Federal and Commercial Customers tells of the Fortune 500 company’s acquisition of technology, intellectual property, and related assets from AppTek Partners, Applications Technology, and Media Mind.  SAIC is expanding its already widely-used human translation and interpretation services through these faster automated services.  In sum:  “The deal will bolster SAIC’s existing portfolio of more than 70 languages and dialects, helping linguists provide enhanced translation, interpretation and analysis service to U.S. government and commercial firm decision makers.”

In related news, Lingotek Enables Users to Easily Translate SharePoint Content reports on the translation software’s new directly embedded language tool, which allows users to translate within SharePoint.  The value to clients is that “By combining best-in-class machine translation solutions and real-time community translations, SharePoint users will be able to produce ‘real time’ volunteer translations in a third amount of the time while reducing large costs.”  This is a boon for SharePoint users, who will no longer have to do their translation outside the program.  Both these stories reflect that automated translation saves money, but I wonder if the machine will ever be able to completely replace the human factor.

Alice Wasielewski, November 20, 2010


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