Instantaneous Language Translation in Your Ear

June 21, 2017

A common technology concept in cartoons and science-fiction series is an ear device that acts as a universal translator.  The wearer would be able to understand and speak any language in the world.  The universal translator has long been one of the humanity’s pipe dream since the Tower of Babel and as technology improves we could be closer to inventing it.  The Daily Mail shares, “The Earpiece That Promises To Translate Language In Seconds: £140 Will Be Available Next Month.”

International travelers’ new best friend might be Lingmo International’s One2One translator that is built on IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence system.  Unlike other translation devices, it does not reply on WiFi or BlueTooth connectivity.  It supports eight languages: English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, German, and Chinese (does that include Mandarin and Cantonese?).  If the One2One does not rely on the Internet, how will it translate languages?

Instead, it uses IBM Watson’s Natural Language Understanding and Language Translator APIs, which intuitively overcomes many of the contextual challenges associated with common languages, as well as understanding the nuances of local dialects…This allows it to translate what you’re saying, almost in real-time.

Lingomo might be relying on IBM Watson for its natural language API, they should also consider using Bitext, especially when it comes to sentimental analysis.  Some languages have words with multiple meanings that change based on a voice’s inflection and tone.

The ramifications for this device are endless.  Can you imagine traveling to a foreign country and being able to understand the native tongue?   It is the dream of billions, but it could also end some serious conflicts.

Whitney Grace, June 21, 2017

Maybe Trump Speak Pretty One Day

June 15, 2017

US President Donald Trump is not the most popular person in the world.  He is a cherished scapegoat for media outlets, US citizens, and other world leaders.  One favorite point of ridicule for people is his odd use of the English language.  Trump’s take on the English tongue is so confusing that translators are left scratching their heads says The Guardian in, “Trump In Translation: President’s Mangled Language Stumps Translators.”  For probably the first time in his presidency, Trump followed proper sentence structure and grammar when he withdrew the US from the Paris Accord.   While the world was in an uproar about the climate change deniers, translators were happy that they could translate his words easier.

Asian translators are especially worried about what comes out of Trump’s mouths.  Asian languages have different root languages than European ones; so direct translations of the colloquial expressions Trump favors are near impossible.

India problems translating Trump to Hindi:

‘Donald Trump is difficult to make sense of, even in English,’ said Anshuman Tiwari, editor of IndiaToday, a Hindi magazine. “His speech is unclear, and sometimes he contradicts himself or rambles or goes off on a tangent. Capturing all that confusion in writing, in Hindi, is not easy,’ he added. ‘To get around it, usually we avoid quoting Trump directly. We paraphrase what he has said because conveying those jumps in his speech, the way he talks, is very difficult. Instead, we summarise his ideas and convey his words in simple Hindi that will make sense to our readers.’

Indian translators also do Trump a favor by translating his words using the same level of the rhetoric of Indian politicians.  It makes him sound smarter than he appears to English-speakers.  Trump needs to learn to trust his speechwriters, but translators should learn they can rely on Bitext’s DLAP to supplement their work and improve local colloquialisms.

Whitney Grace, June 15, 2017

 

Online Translation Becomes a Joke

April 26, 2017

I am not much of a TV buff. I noted the article “Anne Hathaway Sang the Most Awkward Google Translations Beautifully on Jimmy Fallon.” I noted that I will survive was allegedly translated as “I will be punctual.” Close, right. The image below shows the original lyric and Google Translate’s version:

image

Online translation definitely loses none of the nuance and emotional impact. Ooops ooops. When that artificial intelligence controls autonomous drones, what could go wrong? Answer: Nothing. Perfect.

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2017

Google: Translation King?

March 1, 2017

I read “Google’s AI Software Wins Top Score among Machines in Translation Battle.” Good news for the GOOG. The company recently limited free online translation, and I noted when I was translating a test passage from Persian to English that the free Google system truncated the passage, a problem which did not plague the FreeTranslatioins.org system. Persian is a bit more of hill climb than translating Spanish to Italian, but the unpredictable behavior was telling.

The write up, however, encountered no glitches it seems. I learned:

Artificial intelligence language software by US Internet giant Google Inc., scored higher than its rival AI machines in a translation battle between humans and machines held in South Korea [in February 2017].

The Google system made kimchi of four human translators, Systran (a go to fave for many years), and the Naver system (anyone remember Naver search?).

The Google system performed well, according to the “real” news outfit Korea Herald:

the organizers said the four professional translators scored better in translating random English articles — literature and non-literature — into Korean and other Korean articles into English than the machines. Of the machines, Google scored a total of 28 out of 60, followed by Naver’s automated translation app called Papago with 17 and Systran with 15, the tech company officials with knowledge of the matter said.

Yikes. Humans did better. No guaranteed annual income for these folks.

Who lost the battle? Systran International.

The factoid I noted was: “The new systems considered an “entire sentence as one unit.”

But humans? Better.

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2017

IQwest IT Steps Up Its Machine Translation Marketing

February 3, 2017

Machine translation means that a computer converts one language into another. The idea is that the translation is accurate; that is, presents the speaker’s or writer’s message payload without distortion, odd ball syntax, and unintended humor. What’s a “nus”? The name of a nuclear consulting company or a social mistake? Machine translation, as an idea, has been around since that French whiz Descartes allegedly cooked up the idea in the 17th century.

I read two almost identical articles, which triggered by content marketing radar. The first write up appeared in KV Empty Pages as “Finding the Needle in the Digital Multilingual Haystack.” The second article appeared in the Medium online publication as “Finding the Needle in the Digital Multilingual Haystack.”

image

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Notice the similarity. Intrigued I ran a query for IQwest. I noted that the domain name IQwest.com refers to a bum domain name. I did a bit of poking around and learned that there are companies using IQwest for engineering services, education, and legal technologies. The IQwest.com domain is owned by Qwest Communications in Denver.

The machine translation write up belongs to the IQwestIT.com group. No big deal, of course, but knowing which company’s name overlaps with other companies’ usage is interesting.

Now what’s the message in these two identical essays beyond content marketing? For me, the main point is that a law firm can use software translation to eliminate documents irrelevant to the legal matter at hand. For documents not in the lawyer’s native language, machine translation can churn out a good enough translation. The value of machine translation is that it is cheaper than a human translator and a heck of a lot less expensive.

Okay, I understand, but I have understood the value of machine translation since I had access to a Systran based system years ago. Furthermore, machine translation systems have been an area of interest in some of the government agencies with which I am familiar for decades.

The write up states:

building a model and process that takes advantage of benefits of various technologies, while minimizing the disadvantages of them would be crucial. In order to enhance any and all of these solution’s capabilities, it is important to understand that machines and machine learning by itself cannot be the only mechanism we build our processes on. This is where human translations come into the picture. If there was some way to utilize the natural ability of human translators to analyze content and build out a foundation for our solutions, would we be able improve on the resulting translations? The answer is a resounding yes!

Another, okay from me. The solution, which I anticipated, is a rah rah for the IQwest machine translation system. What’s notable is that the number of buzzwords used to explain the system caught my attention; for instance:

  • Classification
  • Clustering
  • N grams
  • Summarization

These standard indexing functions are part of the IQwest machine translation system. That system, the write up notes, can be supplemented with humans who ride herd on the outputs and who interact with the system to make sure that entities (people, places, things, events, etc.) are identified and translated. This is a slippery fish because some persons of interest have different names, handles, nicknames, code words, and legends. Informed humans might be able to spot these entities because no system with which I am familiar is able to knit together some well crafted aliases. Remember those $5,000 teddy bears on eBay. What did they represent?

The write up seems to be aimed at attorneys. I suppose that group of professionals may not be aware of the machine translation systems available online and for on premises installation. For the non attorney reader, the write up tills some familiar ground.

I understand the need to whip up sales leads, but the systems available from Google and Microsoft, to name just two work reasonably well. When those systems are not suitable, one can turn to SDL or Systran, to name two vendors with workable systems.

Net net: My thought is that two identical versions of the same article directed at a legal audience represents a bit of marketing wonkiness. The write up’s shotgun approach to reaching attorneys is interesting. I noticed the duplication of content, and my hunch is that Google’s duplicate detection system did as well.

Perhaps placing the write up in an online publication reaching lawyers would be a helpful use of the information?  What’s clear is that IQwest represents an opportunity for some motivated marketing expert to offer his or her services to the company.

My take is that IQwest offers a business process for reducing costs for litigation related document processing. The translation emphasis is okay, but the idea of making a phone call and getting the job done is what differentiates IQwest from, for example, the GOOG. I remember Rocket Docket. A winner. When I looked at that “package,” the attorneys with whom I spoke did not care about what was under the hood. The hook was speed, reduced cost, and more time to do less dog work.

But the lawyers may need to hurry. “Lawyers Are Being Replaced by Machines That Read.” Dragging one’s feet technologically and demanding high salaries despite a glut of legal eagles may change the game and quickly.

Plus, keep in mind FreeTranslations.org. You can get voice translations as well as text translations. The increasingly frugal Google has trimmed its online translation service. Sigh. The days of pasting lengthy text into a box is gone like a Loon balloon drifting away from Sri Lanka.

There are options, gentle reader.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2017

Google and Its Smart Chinese Translation Neural Machine Thing

October 5, 2016

Google has a new neural translation system for Chinese. Read more here. It sort of works, but poetry is not its strong suit. Many Chinese student memorize Shi Jing’s “Cry of the Ospreys.” In Chinese, the first line of the poem is:

image

Google produces this translation of the line:

“Guan guanju dove, in the river of the continent.”

image

A standard English translation is:

Guan, guan, trill the ospreys, upon the island in the creek.

The standard English translation makes evident the sound of the ospreys from the island in the creek. Google sticks in a “dove” and dumps the island. Close enough for ospreys if not making the meaning clear to a non Chinese reader. Shi Jing is not around to offer an opinion which is probably a good thing.

Stephen E Arnold, October 5, 2016

Microsoft Changing Everything: At Least What Daesh Means in Redmond

August 30, 2016

I reported that Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer (I love that title) asserted that artificial intelligence will change everything. I pointed out that Microsoft has not been able to “change” China. Now Microsoft has learned that it cannot change the meaning of the word “Daesh,” which is one of the names of the Islamic State. I read “Bing Translates “Daesh” As “Saudi Arabia”, Angers Entire Kingdom.” The write up points out:

Bing Translation of “Daesh” the Arabic acronym for a global terrorist group backed by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to “Saudi Arabia” has put the Microsoft Corporation in hot water with the Kingdom. Apparently, when the Arabic word

image

was typed into Bing Translate, the words “Saudi Arabia” would appear as the English translation, according to Khaberni. The so-called technical error caused an uproar in Saudi Arabia, where many Saudi social media users called for a boycott of Bing and Microsoft. The Microsoft Corporation has formally issued an apology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, calling the error “unintentional”.

In what seems like the blink of an eye, Microsoft rolled out the bot which quickly learned to be somewhat interesting. The bot rolled away. Then Microsoft made Windows 10 Web cam hostile. Now Microsoft’s smart translation system has managed to anger the nation state Saudi Arabia. I assume Microsoft’s professionals anticipate smooth, seamless processing when entering the Kingdom from the USA. Now let’s think about the “change everything” statement. Doesn’t seem exactly correct, does it? How about some snap inspections of luggage to brighten one’s day? What’s the word for that? Sheesh? Oh, tay?

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2016

Statistical Translation: Dead Like Marley

June 16, 2016

I read “Facebook Says Statistical Machine Translation Has Reached End of Life.” Hey, it is Facebook. Truth for sure. I learned:

Scale is actually one reason Facebook has invested in its own MT technology. According to Packer [Facebook wizard’’], there are more than two trillion posts and comments, which grows by over a billion each day. “Pretty clearly, we’re not going to solve this problem with a roomful or even a building-full of human translators,” he quipped, adding that to have even “a hope of solving this problem, we need AI; we need automation.” The other reason is adaptability. “We tried that,” said Packer about using third-party MT, but it “did not work well enough for our needs.” The reason? The language of Facebook is different from what is on the rest of the Web. Packer described Facebook language as “extremely informal. It’s full of slang, it’s very regional.” He said it is also laden with metaphors, idiomatic expressions, and is riddled with misspellings (most of them intentional). Additionally, as in the rest of the world, there is a marked difference in the way different age groups communicate on Facebook.

I wonder if it is time to send death notices to the vendors who use statistical methods? Perhaps I should wait a bit. Predictions are often different from reality.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2016

Be the CIA Librarian

May 3, 2016

Research is a vital tool for the US government, especially the Central Intelligence Agency which is why they employee librarians.  The Central Intelligence Agency is one of the main forces of the US Intelligence Community, focused on gathering information for the President and the Cabinet.  The CIA is also the topic of much fictionalized speculation in stories, mostly spy and law enforcement dramas.  Having played an important part in the United States history, could you imagine the files in its archives?

If you have a penchant for information, the US government, and a library degree then maybe you should apply to the CIA’s current job opening: as a CIA librarian.  CNN Money explains one of the perks of the job is its salary: “The CIA Is Hiring…A $100,000 Librarian.”  Beyond the great salary, which CNN is quick to point out is more than the typical family income.  Librarians server as more than people who recommend decent books to read, they serve as an entry point for research and bridge the gap between understanding knowledge and applying it in the actual field.

“In addition to the cachet of working at the CIA, ‘librarians also have opportunities to serve as embedded, or forward deployed, information experts in CIA offices and select Intelligence Community agencies.’  Translation: There may be some James Bond-like opportunities if you want them.”

Most of this librarian’s job duties will probably be assisting agents with tracking down information related to intelligence missions and interpreting it.  It is just a guess, however.  Who knows, maybe the standard CIA agent touts a gun to the stacks?

 

Whitney Grace, May 3, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Online Translation: Google or Microsoft?

March 1, 2016

HI have solved the translation problem. I live in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. Folks here speak Kentucky. No other language needed. However, gentle reader, you may want to venture into lands where one’s native language is not spoken or written. You will need online translation.

Should I forget Systran and other industrial strength solutions of yesteryear. Today the choice is Google or Microsoft if I understand “2 Main Reasons Why Google Translate Is Ahead of Microsoft and Skype.” (The link worked on February 22, 2016. If it does not work when you read this blog post, you may have to root around. That’s life in the zip zip world today.)

Reason one is that Google supports more languages than Microsoft. The total is 100 plus. The write up is sufficiently amazed to describe the language support of the Alphabet Google thing as “mind blowing.” Okay.

Reason two is that Google’s translation function works on smartphone. The write up points out:

You can hand-write, speak, type, or even take a picture of a given language and Google Translate will translate it for you. Not only this but on Android, some of the translation features are available offline. So, some features are accessible even if you do not have access to the internet.

The write up does not dig too deeply into Microsoft’s translation capability. If you are interested in Microsoft’s quite capable and useful services, navigate to the Microsoft Language Portal. Google is okay, but one service may not do the job a person who does not speak Kentucky requires.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2016

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