More from the New York Times on Web translation projects (this time from Leslie Berlin, writing in the Business pages). Projects featured include Lingua, the Global Voices translation project; Google in your language; Meedan.net and TED.

As a professional translator, I have mixed feelings about such projects. Not that I fear for my job:

Machine translations give workable renderings of basic texts, but complicated ideas or phrasings can trip up even the most sophisticated software […] And when it comes to nuance, “machine translation just won’t get you there”

Since 99% of my work is about complicated ideas, phrasings and nuance, I don’t see machines replacing me. Not yet, anyway.

But I take strong issue with a comment by June Cohen, executive producer of TED media:

The volunteers are deeply committed to making the best translation, and they don’t care how long it takes them,” she explains. “There is a passion there that you don’t get from hired guns.”

Deeply committed to good translation and passionate about language and ideas: that describes most of the “hired gun” translators I know. It’s what makes the job worth doing, and worth doing well.

By Marian Dougan


One Response to “Ideas worth translating (2): a web that speaks your language”  

  1. 1 Heather

    TED: what a great site (I could spend a lot of time on here)

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