Nina Czegledy on 19 Nov 2000 17:41:01 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> The cultural bias of translating programs

I am not so sure about stabilization.Translating programs might be great for
French-English or German, try Welsh or Serbian for a change! Last summer
at CFront, quoting a brief text in Bulgarian from Dimitrina Sevova's  for
the Communication Front 2000 News  I translated it  between the languages
of the participants by a web translator. the results can be seen on:

>wade tillett wrote:
>>I was wondering how much text degrades as it is put into a translator. As
>>an experiment, I have entered this text into babelfish and had it
>>translate from french to english and from english to french until the text
>>becomes 'stable.' Let's see...
>>I wondered how much text degrades while it is put in a translator. Like
>>the experiment, I wrote this text in the babelfish and translated it the
>>French-English one and the English-French one until the text becomes '
>>produces ' the left side with us see...
>For me the most interesting aspect of this experiment was not so much to
>show "how bad" these translation programs are. Of course, if you translate
>back and forth several times, distortions occur. The same would happen if
>you gave a text to a series of human translators that do not know of one
>another. As children we used to play a game were one person whispers a
>sentence into the ear of the next who whispers it into the ear of the
>following and so on.  When the last person tells it out loud what sentence
>s/he received, it usually has little resemblance with the original. In
>Italian there is, I'm told, a saying: tradutore, traditore (all
>translators are liars).
>What was really interesting in Wade's experiment is to see that a text
>indeed does stabilize. Stabilization indicates that this version of the
>text contains only words that are, from the point of view of the
>translating program, unambiguous in both languages. And the way it
>stabilizes reveals the bias of the translating algorithm. In Wade's case,
>the translator seems reveals a bias towards business prose (probably
>that's where the market is for the high-end version).  It would be
>interesting to see if stabilization occurs in all translating programs at
>the same point, or if different translating programs have different types
>of biases.
>Perhaps a translation program developed in Asia would have different bias
>from one developed in the US which might be different from a European one.
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