“Éxito aquí” (exit only), “she came in a bottle” (vino en botella) and “go out, fat” (sal gorda) are just some examples of machine translation errors that we have come across. However, regardless of these hilarious examples, which really brighten up our day, machine translation is a current talking point, an issue that raises opinions both within our profession and among the general population. Panacea or black beast? An invaluable resource for translators or the future cause of their disappearance? Good results or terrible translations? In this case, it seems that the answer will honour our Galician roots: it depends.
If we just take a look around us, it is plain to see that machine translation has become a part of our lives, and it looks like it’s here to stay. It is no longer simply a case of disastrous and hard to understand translations that barely portray the meaning of the source text. Nowadays, ever more refined tools are being developed with systems based on rules, statistical methods and functional networks. Proof of this is the fact that machine translation has even been introduced into the public administration (as is the case of the PLATA platform in Spain) and in many renowned international bodies, such as the United Nations (with its TAPTA4UN system). Today, machine translation is still a double-edged sword. On one hand, for the time being it seems highly unlikely that machine translations can offer an acceptable level of quality unless they are complemented with a thorough process of human revision and a good learning system, so we should not depend exclusively on them. On the other hand, given that we are inevitably heading towards the age of automation, it is not something we can ignore if we don’t want to become rapidly behind the times, like somebody who still clings on to their typewriter. It would seem that the key lies in finding middle ground and understanding that machine translation will not substitute translators, but rather complement them: a tool that, when used correctly, can make our life easier just like many other technological advances.
Traductora de Globalingua