There is no machine translation post-editing

That's called computer-assisted translation.

 

There is a huge global need for high-quality translations. Just look at the number of agencies, freelancers, CAT tools, platforms… There is demand! Globalization means competition between translators, but also means huge need for rapid and efficient translations, everywhere, all the time. Contracts, emails, ads, websites, ebooks, blog entries, brochures, articles…

 

Those clients who ask for what they now call “MTPE” make big money with our translations.

 

Machines do a ridiculously good job. The process of translating a document from a source language to a target language is so demanding a task that one can only admire the achievements of modern technology. Bravo guys, your machines do a fantastic job. Although, mediocre at best, or simply inaccurate, compared to what a rookie translator can achieve.

 

Machines have now solved the game of checkers. You can't beat a good software. You could potentially draw with perfect play.

Machines have not solved the game of chess theoretically, but in reality Komodo, among others, is unbeatable.

Experts were stunned when they witnessed a machine being victorious over a go champion. They thought it was impossible.

People now say that the next challenge developers of artificial intelligence systems are willing to take is StarCraft.

Now, I believe that the toughest challenge for machines, that will not be broken in our lifetime, is the translation challenge.

Why?

Because languages are humanly creations. Therefore, imperfect, awkward, ambiguous and incomprehensible without a proper context.

I studied linguistics at university. It wasn't my favorite topic. I liked literature, poetry, novels, and long-haired authors contemplating the autumn sky and the their own miserable fate on this god-forsaken earth. But this linguistics course… I enjoyed! There was something passionate and tragic about the way the professor talked of the semantics of French pronouns. To be honest, I'm not sure I did not create this romantic memory of this professor after his death, that occurred a few months after his own wife's death. But I'm sure I enjoyed his teaching.

He told us he thought Esperanto, together with every man-made language (never said anything about Dothraki or High Valyrian though), was doomed. It was just too perfect to work. Languages can only work if there is a possibility of misunderstanding. Ambiguity is an essential part of communication.

I was fascinated by this idea, at the time, and I still am.

I believe it is that indistinguishable ambiguity that renders language almost totally unreachable by machines. For the time being, and for many decades to come.

Language is the machine's Neverland. It's through the looking glass. Across the Styx. It's another level of perception. Ours.

Translation is a human task. Computers don't translate, they help translators. If the world wants good translations, the world needs to pay translators for their hard, fascinating, and demanding work.

We do not edit, we translate.