Is the relationship between the translator and translation technology collaboration or competition?
The relationship between translation and technology is a key question regarding the influence of translation in this profession. Now new technologies such as translation memories, collaborative translation management systems and data-based machine translation are influencing the very nature of the translation profession.
Roman Jakobson (1960) saw the poetic function of language, which I believe can still remain and co-exist with technology. It's not necessarily the technology itself which is the problem, it's how the translator uses it to his/her own advantage. In the following paragraphs I will describe what machine translation (MT) is so we can fully understand its function within translation.
Within MT, there exists a “shallow approach” of translation where there is no need to research into the deeper meaning of the text, and the translation is chosen simply by selecting matches based on statistical analysis. This approach is very effective, and quick to use, however there is always the risk of guessing the wrong option. The other approach is also known as “deep approach”, where the actual meaning of the word is localized, for example a translator can ask the original author what he/she meant exactly. Technically, the TM would carry out this investigation on its own, requiring the translation software to have a significant amount of Artificial Intelligence to do so. This method is still not fully functional or possible with MT.
Here lays the underlying problem with MT, which is that a machine cannot distinguish between complex ideas, or separate the words which represent entities, corporations, towns that are often more relevant when kept in the original source language. This distinction is what differentiates translators from machine-aided translations. However, once the translator is aware of these problems, he/she can use this to their own advantage. By processing the text through the TM, it is possible to review the final product in post-editing. All depending on what kind of source text it is.
Examples of how translators can use translation technology to their own advantage include online dictionaries. Looking through dictionaries can be a time-consuming job, now with instant results, we can achieve direct translation of words we are unsure of. Now with the use of corpora, we can also see these words in context, to see if they fit with what we had in mind. This combination of 'translation technology', is almost overseen and I think that is why these tools are so useful, because we hardly take notice, they are part of our lives. Just as chairs are also a useful technology, we don't see them as such because they are essential parts of our everyday lives.
In a world where time is money, MT is useful for businesses as it cheap. Initially it may look like an unnecessary investment but I think over time it is a...