;   Medical Translation Insight: What constitutes "good enough" in (machine) translation? - ForeignExchange Translations

What constitutes Yesterday's Washington Post featured a good article on the efforts of Google Translate and DARPA's Spoken Language Communication and Translation System for Tactical Use systems to master automated translations.

An interesting part of the story was the look at translation quality. What does constitute "good enough" when it comes to quality - whether it's human or machine translation?

While there can be endless discussion as to where the goal line should be place, the fact is that the quality gap between machine and human translation is narrowing.

Here is one excerpt from the article:

"Human translators aren't actually that great," Waibel says. In one study, people listened to a machine interpreter and then were asked questions to measure their grasp of content. The score was 64 on a 100-point scale. Not wonderful. But when they did the same test with a human simultaneous interpreter, the result was not a lot better -- a 74.

"When humans try to figure out how to translate one thing, they drop their attention as to what's coming in the next graph," Waibel says. "And they're human. They get tired. They get bored."
The same is true with written translations. Most human translators produce better quality output than machines but does the difference matter?

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  1. JL said...
    If the translation was of instructions on how to take a prescription medication, then yes, it would matter. There are too many potentially harmful consequences for us to ever settle for "good enough".
    JLibbey said...
    "Good enough" is never acceptable when people's safety is at stake.
    Ruben de la Fuente said...
    The is to leave the mindset of human translation versus machine translation and think about human translation complemented with machine translation. The two of them together will increase dramatically time to market without compromising quality. Here's an interesting use case from ProMT specific to health domain

    Oliver Lawrence said...
    If the study had included human TRANSLATORS as well as INTERPRETERS, then the accuracy would have been much greater. With written translation, there is the time to weigh the impact of every word and to anticipate potential ambiguities.

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