The translation process may be stated as:
Decoding the meaning of the source text; and
Re-encoding this meaning in the target language.
Behind this ostensibly11 simple procedure lies a complex cognitive12 operation. To decode the meaning of the source text in its entirety, the translator must interpret and analyse all the features of the text, a process that requires in-depth knowledge of the grammar, semantics, syntax, idioms, etc., of the source language, as well as the culture of its speakers. The translator needs the same in-depth knowledge to re-encode the meaning in the target language.
Therein lies the challenge in machine translation: how to program a computer that will "understand" a text as a person does, and that will "create" a new text in the target language that "sounds" as if it has been written by a person.
Machine Translation (MT) and Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT)
It is important to make a distinction between two terms that are closely related and that tend to confuse non-specialists: machine translation (MT) and computer-assisted translation (CAT). These two technologies are the consequence of different approaches. They do not produce the same results, and are used in distinct contexts.
MT aims at assembling all the information necessary for translation in one program so that a text can be translated without human intervention. It exploits the computer's capacity to calculate in order to analyze the structure of a statement or sentence in the source language, break it down into easily translatable elements and then create a statement with the same structure in the target language. It uses huge plurilingual dictionaries, as well as corpora13 of texts that have already been translated.
CAT uses a number of tools to help the translator work accurately and quickly, the most important of which are terminology databases and translation memories. In effect, the computer offers a new way of approaching text processing of both the source and target text. Working with a digital document gives us non-sequential access to information so that we can use it according to our needs. It becomes easy to analyze the sentences of the source text, to verify the context in which a word or a text is used, or to create an inventory of terms, for example. Likewise, any part of the target text can be modified at any moment and parallel versions can be produced for comparison and evaluation. All these aspects have profound14 implications15 for translation, especially in terms of assessing the results, since the translator can work in a more relaxed way because of the greater freedom to make changes at any time while the work is in progress.
It is important to stress that automatic translation systems are not yet capable of producing an immediately useable text, as languages are highly dependant on context and on the different denotations16 and connotations17 of words and word combinations. It is not always possible to provide full context within the text itself, so that machine translation is limited to concrete situations and is considered to be primarily a means of saving time, rather than a replacement for human activity. It requires post-editing in order to yield18 a quality target text.
In practice, computer-assisted translation is a complex process involving specific tools and technology adaptable to the needs of the translator, who is involved in the whole process and not just in the editing stage. The computer becomes a workstation where the translator has access to a variety of texts, tools and programs: for example, monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, parallel texts, translated texts in a variety of source and target languages, and terminology databases. Each translator can create a personal work environment and transform it according to the needs of the specific task. Thus computer-assisted translation gives the translator on-the-spot flexibility and freedom of movement, together with immediate access to an astonishing19 range of up-to-date information. The result is an enormous saving of time.
The following are the most important computer tools in the translator's workplace, from the most elementary to the most complex:
Electronic Dictionaries, Glossaries and Terminology Databases
Consulting electronic or digital dictionaries on the computer does not at first appear radically different from using paper dictionaries. However, the advantages soon become clear. It takes far less time to type in a word on the computer and receive an answer than to look through a paper dictionary; there is immediate access to related data through links; and it is possible to use several dictionaries simultaneously by working with multiple documents.
Electronic dictionaries are available in several forms: as software that can be installed in the computer; as CD-ROMs and, most importantly, through the Internet. The search engine Google, for example, gives us access to a huge variety of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries in many languages, although it is sometimes necessary to become on-line subscribers, as with the Oxford English Dictionary. On-line dictionaries organize material for us from their corpus because they are not simply a collection of words in isolation. For example, we can ask for all words related to one key word, or for all words that come from a particular language. That is to say, they allow immediate cross-access to information.
For help with specific terminology there is a wide range of dictionaries, glossaries and databases on the Internet.
Analyze the results and answer the questions:
1) Which way is more convenient? Why do you think so?
2) Which way is more accurate? Why?
3) What corrections and editing did you have to make?
Decide whether the following sentences are true (T) or false (F):
Some machine translation (MT) systems produce good translations.
It is difficult to compare different MT systems.
The easiest way to evaluate any machine translation of a given text is to compare it to a human translation of the same text.
Read the following text and check your answers to the previous task:
Lost in machine translation
You can go out right now and buy a machine translation system for anything between £100 and £100,000. But how do you know if it’s going to be any good? The big problem with MT systems is that they don't actually translate: they merely help translators to translate. Yes, if you get something like Metal (very expensive) or GTS (quite cheap) to work on your latest brochure, they will churn20 out something in French or whatever, but it will be pretty laughable stuff.
All machine-translated texts have to be extensively post-edited (and often pre-edited) by experienced translators. To offer a useful saving, the machine must make the time the translator spends significantly less than he or she would have taken by hand.
Inevitably, the MT manufacturers’ glossies talk blithely21 of ‘a 100 percent increase in throughput’ but skepticism remains. Potential users want to make their own evaluation, and that can tie up key members of the corporate language centre for months.
A few weeks ago, translators, system developers, academics, and others from Europe, the US, Canada, China, and Japan met for the first time in a Swiss hotel to mull22 over MT matters. A surprisingly large number of European governmental and corporate organizations are conducting expensive and elaborate evaluations of MT, but they may not produce, ‘buy or don’t buy’ results.
Take error analysis, a fancy name for counting the various types of errors the MT system produces. You might spend five months working out a suitable scoring scheme – is correct gender agreement more important than correct number? - and totting23 up figures for a suitably large sample of text, but what do those figures mean? If one system produces vastly more errors than another, it is obviously inferior. But suppose they produce different types of error in the same overall numbers: which type of error is worse? Some errors are bound to cost translators more effort to correct, but it requires a lot more work to find out which.
It isn't just users who have trouble with evaluation. Elliott Macklovitch, of Canada, described an evaluation of a large commercial MT system, in which he analysed the error performance of a series of software updates only to find - as the system's suspicious development manager had feared – that not only had there been no significant improvement, but the latest release was worse.
And bugs are still common. Using a 'test suite' of sentences designed to see linguistic weaknesses, researches in Stuttgart found that although one large system could cope happily with various complex verb-translation problems in a relative clause, it fell apart when trying to do exactly the same thing in a main clause. Developers are looking for bigger, better test suites to help to keep such bugs under control.
Good human translators produce good translations; all MT systems produce bad translations. But just what is a good translation? One traditional assessment technique involves a bunch of people scoring translations on various scales for intelligibility ('Does this translation into English make sense as a piece of English?'); accuracy (‘Does this piece of English give the same information as the French original?'); style, and so on. However, such assessment is expensive, and designing the scales is something of a black art.
Properly designed and integrated MT systems really ought to enhance the translator's life, but few take this on trust. Of course, they do things differently in Japan. While Europeans are dabbling their toes and most Americans deal only in English, the Japanese have gone in at the deep End. The Tokyo area already sports two or three independent MT training schools where, as the eminent Professor Nagao casually noted in his presentation, activities are functioning with the efficiency of the Toyota production line. We're lucky they're only doing it in Japanese.
Each of the sentences below (except one) summarizes an individual paragraph of the text. Order the sentences so that they form a summary of the text. One of the sentences contains information, which is not in the text. Which one?
1 The developers of MT systems have also had problems evaluating their systems.
2 Many European organizations are evaluating MT, but the results may not be conclusive.
3Assessing machine translations as good or bad is very difficult because such judgments cannot be made scientifically.
4 It is time-consuming for potential users to test the MT manufacturers’ claims that their products double productivity.
5 Better tests are needed to monitor linguistic weaknesses in MT Systems.
6 All machine translations need to be edited by a human translator.
7 A reliable MT system is unlikely to be available this century.
8 The price of MT systems varies greatly and none actually translates.
9 The Japanese have a few independent MT training schools, which are said to be very efficient.
10 Analysing the errors made by MT systems is inconclusive because it may only show that different systems produce similar numbers of error types.
Match each of the following verbs from the text with the expression similar meaning:
think carefully about
produce large amounts of
occupy the time of
Using the paragraph reference given, find words or phrases in the text which have a similar meaning to:
1 ridiculous (para.l)
2 colour brochures (para.3)
3 casually (para.3)
4 sure to (para. 5)
5 group (para. 8)
6 mysterious ability (para.3)
7 experimenting in a small way (para.9)
8 invested heavily (para.9)
Look at these sentences. Discuss why a machine might find them difficult to translate:
I bought a set of six chairs. The sun set at 9 p.m.
He set a book on the table. We set off for London in the morning.
She had her hair set for the party. The VCR is on the television set.
Can you think of other examples where this kind of problem occurs?
Make a list of the main problems of machine translation and try to give some advice how to avoid them.
2 When You Turn on your Computer
Unit B. Graphics User Interface
This is a picture of a computer screen with one window open. The window contains a dialog box. This one is the Find dialog box. You can see the name on the title bar at the top of the screen. You use this dialog box to find files or folders. (pause)
Near the top of the window there are three tabs. The first tab is for searching by name and location. There are two other tabs: one for searching by date and the other for advanced searches. (pause)
To search for a file by name and location, you type the name of the file in the drop-down list box called Named. In this example, the user wants to find all the document files. Then you choose the folder to search in using another drop-down list box labelled Look in. Here the user wants to look in the folder called Personal on the C drive. So the first drop-down list box is for the name, and the second drop-down list box is for the location.(pause)
Between the Named and Look in drop-down boxes is a text box. In the text box you type any words which you want to look for. In this example, the user only wants documents with the word 'sport'. (pause)
You start the search by clicking on the Find Now command button. Other buttons stop the search, start a new search, or browse the drives.
3 The Very First Contacts with your Computer
Unit A Keys and Buttons
The keys on a computer keyboard can be arranged in many different ways. The most common way on a desktop PC is called the extended keyboard. The diagram shows an extended keyboard. The keys are in four main sections. (pause)
The section known as the main keyboard has a key for each letter of the alphabet. It also has keys for the digits 0 to 9, punctuation marks like commas and full stops, and other common symbols. (pause)
Above the main keyboard is a row of keys known as the function keys. This section includes the Escape key to the left and the Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Break keys to the right. The function keys labelled F1 to F12 don't have fixed functions. You can program them to perform different functions such as saving and printing. (pause)
To the right of the main keyboard is a section known as the editing keys. This group includes keys which insert and delete data. It also includes the cursor keys, also called the arrow keys. These keys move the cursor around the screen. (pause)
To the far right of the main keyboard is the numeric keypad. This section has keys for the digits 0 to 9 and for common mathematical symbols like plus and minus. The keys are arranged like the keys on an electronic calculator. You use these keys to input numerical data.
5 Computer Types and Uses
Unit A. Kinds of Computers
Digital computers can be divided into five main types, depending on their size and power: they are mainframes, minicomputers, desktop PCs, laptops and handheld computers.
‘Mainframes’ are the largest and most powerful computers. The basic configuration of a mainframe consists of a central system which processes immense amounts of data very quickly. This central system provides data information and computing facilities for hundreds of terminals connected together in a network. Mainframes are used by large companies, factories and universities.
‘Minicomputers’ are smaller and less powerful than mainframes. They can handle multi-tasking, that is, they can perform more than one task at the same time. Minicomputers are mainly used as file servers for terminals. Typical applications include academic computing, software engineering and other sophisticated applications in which many users share resources.
PCs carry out their processing on a single microchip. They are used as personal computers in the home or as workstations for a group. Typical examples are the IBM PC, or the Apple Macintosh. Broadly speaking, there are two classes of personal computer: (a) desktop PCs, which are designed to be placed on your desk, and (b) portable PCs, which can be used as a tiny notebook. This is why they are called ‘notebooks’ or ‘laptops’. The latest models can run as fast as similar desktops and have similar configurations. They are ideal for business executives who travel a lot.
The smallest computers can be held in one hand. They are called handheld computers or palmtops. They are used as PC companions or as electronic organizers for storing notes, reminders and addresses.
A: I'm thinking of buying a computer, and I need some advice.
B: OK. What do you want to use it for?
A: For writing, maybe for games. I want it for the Internet.
B: For the Internet and games ... I recommend a multimedia computer.
A: What do you mean by a multimedia computer?
B: Well, it's more powerful than a basic computer. It's got sound and a CD-ROM or DVD drive. You can use it for high-quality graphics, animation, and video.
A: What if I wanted... I travel a lot, if I wanted something smaller, what's available?
B: There are portable computers. A multimedia notebook is probably best.
A: Is a notebook the smallest kind you can get?
B: No, you can get subnotebooks and even smaller handheld devices. They're mostly used as organizers, as a diary, a 'to do' list, and that kind of thing. But for writing and general use a notebook is better.
A: OK, I think I'll go for a notebook. What other things do I need?
B: A printer... and for the Internet, make sure you have a modem.
A: A modem?
B: Yes, it's a device for connecting your computer to a telephone line. You need it to connect to the Internet.
Interviewer: Some portable computers are referred to as laptops and others as palmtops. Can you explain the difference?
Tom: Sure. Laptops are simply smaller versions of desktop PCs, but they can run similar applications. However, palmtops are handheld computers and weigh less than 2 pounds; they are used as PC companions or as personal digital assistants.
Interviewer: And what are the basic features of palmtops?
Tom: Well, these handheld devices run on rechargeable alkaline batteries and have small keyboard and high-contrast LCD screens. Sometimes they have buttons for launching applications and a stylus or pen, which is used for interacting with a touch-sensitive screen.
Interviewer: Do they need special operating systems?
Tom: Yes. They usually run Palm OS, from Palm Computing or Pocket PC OS, the system developed by Microsoft for mobile-computing devices. Some pen-based systems can also recognize hand-written characters and convert them into editable text.
Interviewer: Right. What sort of things can you do with handheld computers?
Tom: They are usually designed to store personal information, for example, a calendar, an address book, a note pad, a calculator and a voice recorder. They can also come with built-in modem and Internet software, which lets you send and receive e-mail from a payphone, a hotel or even a plane.
Interviewer: Really? They are compatible with traditional PCs?
Tom: Yes, of course. They can transfer information to printers and PCs via cables or infrared link. The software lets you synchronize documents with your desktop PC.
Interviewer: and how do you see the future of palmtops? How will they develop, do you think?
Tom: Well, I think they’ll become more and more popular with business executives who’ll use them as a portable supplement to their desktop systems.
Unit B. Computer Uses (1)
Computers in everyday life
We use a PC for writing letters, for playing games, to calculate our bills, and to connect with the Internet. Extract 2
We've got electronic checkout tills with barcode readers. They read a special barcode on almost everything we sell. They calculate the bill for the customer. At the same time they send information to a larger computer, so we always know exactly what we've got in the store.
We make washing machines and refrigerators. The machines we use to make them are controlled by computers. We also use computers to calculate our wages, to keep the accounts, and to look after all materials and parts.
Our terminal links to airline offices. If you want to fly anywhere in the world, we can tell you at once if there's a seat on the flight you want. We can supply you with the tickets and we can reserve your hotel - all by computer.
You are now going to hear a lecturer describing to students how computer may be useful to them.
Good morning! and welcome to the introductory course on computers. We take computing very seriously here and we encourage every student to acquire a basic knowledge of the subject. Could we have the first slide please? … (slide-projector noises) … Okay, let's have a look at Figure 1.
Well, you'll notice that I've drawn a computer in the centre, and radiating out from it are lines leading to some of the subjects that we teach here. Let's have a look at each one in turn.
First, Languages. Well, you'll be submitting quite a lot of written work and we encourage you to use a word processor. This is much like using a typewriter except it's more forgiving when you make a mistake. In fact, editing text can be quite enjoyable when you use word processor.
Secondly, History. Essays again, of course, but also we'll expect you to gain some familiarity with historical databases.
What about Engineering? Well, you must learn to use our Computer Aided Design software, both for producing technical drawing and for helping with the design process generally.
Financial packages are very important for Business Studies. But also, we set great store by the use of simulations. Uh, you can think of these in your case, as computerised business games where a group of you manage the finances and so on of an imaginary company. You'll also need to know about databases and spreadsheets. A spreadsheet, by the way, is a sort of supercalculator, except you can enter formulae as well as numbers – it’s ideal for financial planning.
Social scientists – you'll find yourselves using the computer to analyse the results of surveys, and there are several statistical packages designed for this purpose.
Scientists in general are likely to want to learn programming. Sometimes you'll be able to buy software off the shelf, but very often you'll have your own requirements and then you'll have to program the computer yourself. Then you’ll have your own requirement and then you’ll have to program the computer yourself.
Last, but not least – Computer Science... If you're studying to be a computer scientist then you need some familiarity with all the things I've just mentioned. In addition, you'll have to learn in detail about things like operating systems and so on...
Well, that's all for this session but there's one application you're all likely to find useful, and that's Desk Top Publishing. For example, Figure 1 that you've been looking at, took me a few minutes to produce, using a desk top publishing package. The result's much neater than I could've achieved by hand.
Unit C. Computer Uses (2): Word Processing
The best way to learn about a word processor is to use it. However, I will briefly describe some of the main features.
You can use a word processor in any circumstances where you would otherwise use a typewriter. The two machines are very similar in function, although the word processor has many advantages that are not matched by a conventional typewriter. The most obvious difference is the ease of correcting mistakes. As the text is not printed as it is entered, corrections can be made at any time. Printing is carried out when the document is to your satisfaction.
When using a typewriter, it is necessary to press the carriage return key at the end of each line of text. A word processor carries out this function automatically; it is known as word-wrap. As a new line is started, the spacing of the text on the last line is adjusted so that the left and the right hand edges line up. This is known as justification and gives a professional appearance to the text. In most word processors, justification can be ‘switched off’ to give the text a ragged right-hand margin. On a word processor, the carriage return key is often referred to as the return or enter key. It is used to start a new line of text, for example the beginning of a paragraph.
Word processors make use of a cursor. This is usually a small flashing line or block and indicates the point at which text will be entered on the screen. Most keyboards have a group of four keys marked with arrows, each pointing in one of the following directions: left, right, up, down. These are known as the cursor keys and as the name suggests are used for moving the cursor around the text for editing purposes.
Cursor editing usually applies to the manipulation of smaller blocks of text, say a maximum of one line, and consists of inserting, deleting and replacing text. For example, to correct a spelling mistake, first of all use the cursor to the right of the incorrect letter and delete it using the delete key. This key is usually found above the enter key and is marked with an arrow pointing to the left. The required replacement letter is then simply typed from the keyboard and the rest of the text in the paragraph will simply re-align itself.
1 First Steps in IT English: Words, Notions, Measurements
Unit A Parts and Measurements
a) 1-с, 2-b, 3-d, 4-a, 5-c, 6-a, 7-b, 8-a, 9-b, 10-d
b) a-5 b-9 с-7 d-10 e-3 f-2 g-1 h-4 i-6 j-8
c) a-3, b-5, c-9, d-1, e-10, f-2, g-6, h-4, i-8, j-7
to process data
to control hardware
to watch movies
a binary digit
an operation system
to type letters
to measure size
to play games
to run a program
a storage device
Central Processing Unit
Random Access Memory
Read Only Memory
Hard Disk Drive
Digital Versatile Disk
character – letter
speed – rate
device – hardware
keep – store
image – picture
software – program
storage – memory
operate – work
part – component
computer – machine
1- run, 2- measure, 3-movies, CPU, 4-processes, 5-graphics, RAM