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Translation tool disadvantages



One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.

No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.

Elbert Hubbard



Globalization has greatly increased the scale of cross-cultural communication and the need to eliminate the language barriers. The development of digital technologies has brought about wide use of translation tools or computer applications designed specifically to render the digital content from one natural language into another. The two main kinds of such computer applications are machine translation (MT) and computer-aided translation (CAT) [1].


MT applications are the wholly automatic systems that attempt to translate sentences and texts as wholes without human intervention, such as FreeTranslation, InterTran, Reverso and Google are available free of charge online [2].

CAT applications,as opposed to wholly automatic systems, are translation aids, which provide linguistic help for translators: most obviously, in the form of dictionaries and grammars and, most importantly translation memories, i.e. databases of previously translated texts to aid translators. They divide the text up into segments, perhaps a sentence or a paragraph at a time, and then try to find identical or similar passages in a database of previous translations. The most popular CAT programs are Trados, Déjà Vu, Transit and IBM Translation Manager [2].


Most popular CAT programs are electronic dictionaries, such as Oxford or Collins CD-ROM, Abbyy Lingvo, Prompt, Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, which have the advantage of size, cost, speed and convenience over their printed counterparts. They range from general single-language dictionaries to very specific terminological dictionaries for medical, legal, and other professional languages. With the advancement of technology the number of features that are available in electronic dictionaries has also increased. Many models are equipped with text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities, interactive vocabulary games, etc. Most recently, electronic dictionaries have become available on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, although the features on these devices are not as varied or as complex as the features that are found in conventional handheld dictionaries and current software offerings [3].

Translation tool advantages [1]:

1) The most important and the most obvious advantages of using the above translation tools are the translation ease and speed. This is especially valuable for technical translation which sometimes needs to be done in large volumes and quickly.

2) Secondly, technical materials are too boring for human translators.

3) Thirdly, machine translation provides for terminological consistency.

4) The fourth reason is that under working conditions top quality human translation is not always needed.

5) Lastly, few people’s command of the target language is sufficient to do translation.


Translation tool disadvantages

The most serious disadvantage of using automated translation tools is the unpublishable translation quality. Each natural language is a system in its own right, with its historical, local, cultural and linguistic (polysemy, connotation, word order) peculiarities. Therefore the content cannot be rendered from the original language into the target language word-for word, without taking into consideration such peculiarities. “Even in human translation no two individual language experts will produce identical translations of the same text in the same language, and it typically takes a lot of revisions to produce a publishable translation.” [4]. That’s why it is crucially important to do pre-editing and post-editing while using machine translation tools.


Pre-editing involves preparation of the original text for a machine translator to handle it more effectively. Post-editing is the process of improving a machine-generated translation with a minimum of manual labour, correction of machine translation output to ensure the required level of quality. Light post-editing aims at making the output simply understandable; full post-editing at making it also stylistically appropriate. Such post-editing may take longer than translation from scratch. But with advances in machine translation full post-editing is becoming an alternative to manual translation. There are a number of software tools that support post-editing of machine-translated output. This includes the Google Translator Toolkit, SDL Trados, Unbabel and Systran. [5]



1. J. Hutchins, Current commercial machine translation systems and computer-based translation tools: system types and their uses. [Online]. Available: http://www.mt-archive.info/IJT-2005-Hutchins.pdf [Accessed : Dec. 29, 2014]

2. J. Hutchins, What are translation tools? [Online]. Available: http://www.dbfcom.com/What-are-translation-tools.htm [Accessed: Dec. 21, 2014]

3. 10 Features to look for in an electronic dictionary. [Online]. Available: http://www.ebay.com/gds/10-Features-to-Look-for-in-an-Electronic-Dictionary-/10000000177628917/g.html [Accessed: Jan. 5, 2015]

4. Why online translators suck. [Online]. Available: http://www.tofugu.com/2011/10/20/how-online-translators-work-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them/ [Accessed: Dec. 13, 2014]

5. Post-editing. [Online]. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postediting [Accessed: Jan. 5, 2015]

6. Нелепости перевода. [Online]. Available: http://www.techtranslater.com/index.php? object=nelepost [Accessed: Jan. 6, 2014]

7. И. Завадский, Ошибки в маркетинговых переводах. [Online]. Available: http://just-translate-it.ru/oshibki-v-marketingovyx-perevodax/ [Accessed: Jan. 6, 2015]




1. The following may be recommended to be done in the way of pre-editing:

- split long sentences into shorter ones, because experience shows that MT cannot deal well with long complex sentences.

- indicate whether a particular word has a particular function (e.g. convict as noun or verb). Reducing functional ambiguity greatly simplifies MT analysis of the sentence.

- indicate whether a particular name is to be translated or not. It could be done to prevent, for example, translating John White as Джон Белый.

- indicate the boundaries of compound nouns: to this end, a compound can be enclosed in brackets.

- insert punctuation. For example in a sentence such as There are he says

two options… we may need to ensure that he says is treated as an embedded phrase. It

could be enclosed in commas or bracketed, e.g. There are, he says, two options… or

There are (he says) two options...

- summarize the original text and then translate the summary.


2. When post-editing, check for:

- word order,

- articles,

- tense forms,

- repetitions,

- polysemy/context,

- proper names,

- localization (adaptation to local conditions, e.g. currencies, measurements, etc.).


3. Be sensitive to cultural peculiarities:

For instance, Coca-Cola in Chinese sounds like “to bite a tadpole (головастик)", the American Airlines slogan "Fly in Leather!” in Latin America is perceived as “fly nude”, the Egyptian air carrier Misair could not work in French speaking countries, as it sounds like “trouble”. [6]


4. Avoid typical translation errors [7]:

- word-for-word translation;

- wordiness: “осуществлять влияние” — влиять, “выполнить запуск программы” — запустить программу;

- repetitions: “pеальное влияние”, “конкретных потребителей”;

- translating all possessive pronouns: they are used in English much more often than in Russian. (“включите ваш HD-телевизор”).


Activity 1. Choose the best variant and justify your choice:

Original Translation 1 Translation 2
SWIFT also brings the financial community together to work collaboratively to shape market practice and define standards. СВИФТ также приносит финансовое сообщество для работы совместно, чтобы сформировать практику рынка и определить стандарты. СВИФТ также объединяет финансовое сообщество для совместной работы в целях формирования рыночной практики и выработки стандартов.
The system is designed with wake-on-LAN (WOL), power saving mode and smart cooling to help ensure efficient use of power and optimized performance.   Благодаря поддержке технологии Wake-on-LAN (WOL), режима энергосбережения и интеллектуального охлаждения система обеспечивает энергоэффективность и оптимальную производительность. Благодаря поддержке технологии Wake-on-LAN (WOL), гибких режимов энергопотребления и охлаждения обеспечивается энергоэффективность и оптимизируется производительность системы.
These units are equipped with a local switch used as general terminal board Данные агрегаты оснащены местным выключателем, который используется в качестве главного клеммного блока В данных агрегатах питающий кабель подключается непосредственно к выводам главных контактов вводного выключателя


Activity 2. Analyze the translations done by two translation tools, compare them with the correct translation and decide what is wrong with them:

Оriginal Google Prompt Correct translation
The CAN@net II/Generic offers with a generic ASCII interface via TCP/IP the possibility to use the device in non-Windows systems such as Linux operating systems. CAN @ чис- тая II / Generic предлагает с универсаль- ным интер- фейсом ASCII через TCP / IP Возмож- ность ис- пользовать устройство в системах, отличных от Windows, таких как операцион- ные системы Linux. CAN@net II/Generic предлагает с универсаль- ным интер- фейсом ASCII через TCP/IP воз- можность использовать устройство в системах не- Windows, таких как операцион- ные системы Linux. CAN@net II/Generic пре- доставляет универсальный ASCII интерфейс через TCP/IP, который позволяет использовать устройство в других операционных системах, отличных от Windows, например, в Linux.

Activity 3. Do pre-editing of the given text:

Original Pre-edited version
Определенная задача состояла в разработке полноты базы, т.е. осуществлена такая архитектура, которая могла бы осуществить как работу поисковых систем для отдела кадров и других отделов предприятия, так и формирование выходной информации, необходимой для функционирования подсистемы управления кадрами и сведений для руководства предприятия.
Несмотря на определенную унификацию баз данных для управления кадрами судостроительного предприятия такая база имеет определенные специфические отличия, например, разработаны такие поля, которые необходимы для расчета трудоемкости постройки судов и т.д.  

Activity 4. Correct the machine translation of the original texts:

Original Translation 1 Translation 2 Suggested translation
The level set by the user is incorrect.   Уровень задается пользователе м неверно.     Уровень, ус- тановленный пользовате- лем, является неверным.  
Operation of this equipment in a residential area is likely to cause harmful interference, in which case the user will be required to correct the interference at his own expense. Эксплуата- ция данного оборудова- ния в жилой зоне может вызвать вредные по- мехи, и в этом случае пользователь должен бу- дет устра- нить помехи за свой счет.   Эксплуатация этого обору- дования в жилом рай- оне, вероят- но, вызовет вредное вме- шательство, когда пользо- ватель будет обязан ис- правлять вмешательст- во за его счет.  

Activity 5. Identify the problems with the Google translation of the original text and do its post-editing

Problems Original text Google--translated text
  Автоматизация подсистемы управления кадрами является одной из важнейших частей автоматизации производственно-хозяйственной деятельности предприятия. Automation personnel management subsystem is one of the most important parts of the automation of production and economic activity of the enterprise.  
  «Your weight is the force that you exert on the Earth. It is a result of gravity acting on your body. On the Moon, your weight would be much less that it is on Earth, because of the weaker pull of the moon’s gravity. Weight differs from mass: your mass is constant whatever the force of gravity. «Ваш вес сила, которая вы прилагаете на Земле. Это результат тяжести, действующая на вашем теле. На Луне, ваш вес будет гораздо меньше, чем это на Земле, из-за слабого притяжения гравитации Луны. Вес отличается от массы: Ваша масса является постоянной, независимо сила тяжести.
  Научно-технический прогресс влечет за собой возрастание потоков информации, которой обмениваются носители разных языков, что способствует расширению межъязыковых границы и увеличению объема текстов, требующих перевода. Scientific and technological progress entails an increase in the flow of information exchanged between carriers of different languages, which enhances interlanguage borders and increase the amount of text requiring translation.  


Activity 6. Restore the original text from the Google-translation and improve its translation:

"Мы настоятельно рекомендуем Microsoft мышь. Она эргономично спроектирована, особо сделана под Окна 95 и имеет третью кнопку в виде колеса, которые могут завивать окна. Совокупление Microsoft мыши и Окон 95 делает вашу повседневную работу легко приятной".


Mark the statements as T (True) or F (False).

1. MT and CAT differ in the degree of required human intervention.

2. Online dictionaries are a powerful machine translation tool.

3. CAT applications are based on translation databases.

4. Light and full post-editing pursue different purposes.

5. There is no such thing as a perfect translation tool.

6. It is easier to use human translation than post-edit a machine translation.

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