Last week, noting a rash of recent announcements regarding machine translation (aka "MT") developments and crowdsourced translation efforts, we conducted a short straw poll. The question to translation service providers was simple:
What do you think will be more disruptive to your business - machine translation or crowdsourcing?
One week and 322 votes later, the answer is in:
It is interesting to see that translation service providers view advances in MT as a (slightly) larger threat than efforts to use crowds of volunteer translators.
Even more interesting are the comments and examples that we received via comments and email messages. Here is a sampling of email messages:
Adam recalled a machine translation gone bad and though that:
I think it is excusable for a client not to know what it is buying, but inexcusable for language professionals to be ignorant of what they are selling, and that applies to MT: the client bank had obviously been attracted to the low cost of the MT solution offered in this instance, but was not in a position to assess the quality of its output.Several people commented that not all MT is equal. For instance, Kevin had this to say:
Most of the machine translation of Chinese to English I have ever seen is utter rubbishIn general, MT drew more and stronger opinions. Werner, for example, wrote that:
I'm not worried [about MT], and any client who believes that rubbish and uses such programs instead of human translators is not a loss to meThat may have something to do with the fact that "crowdsourcing" does not appear to be widely understood. Many, many people asked:
What does "crowdsourcing" mean?And finally, Michael asked, quite succinctly:
Were the Luddites right?Thank you to everybody who participated in the poll!
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