Machine Translation – When, How, Why And Where It All Began!
By: Rabia Tanveer
People have always been curious about other languages. There was a time when translation was an exclusive talent which was possessed by very people. But when a new technology came around and became available to the general public. Things changed and turned around. What are we talking about? We are talking about Machine Translation.
Apparently during the WWII, America needed someone to translate constantly from German to English and English to German. A scientist named Warren Weaver invented a decoding system pretty much like the one created by Alan Turing. They invented a valuable thing, but it was exclusive. So how did we get to use it so leisurely?
It was the IBM engineers who took Weaver’s decoding machine solution in 1988 and enhanced it to fit the new generation of users. However, it was later adopted by Google and made available for all. In 2006, exactly 9 years ago, Google Translate was launched. Sure, there were some pretty hilarious mistakes and oddities made by Google, but it was in the infant years. In the beginning, it offered translation from English to German, Spanish and French.
It later added Portuguese, Italian, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Russian, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, Greek and Hindi to their system. After that we got the full version over the years that now supports more than 90 languages. At first we could only translate from English to the language of our choice, but now we can choose any language pair. What we are using now is the 39th stage of Google Translate, so you can imagine the pains Google Translate Team went through to get to this point.
And of course, now we also have a “speak” function that allows you to hear an automated voice speak the words in the right accent. Although, the implied use of this translation source was to get “quality” translations for free. We all know that is not possible. Machine Translation is great help for students or beginners who are testing the murky waters of translation services, but this is not a substitute for Human translation.
We all know the oddities and hilarious mistakes by Google Translate, but this cannot happen in the documents, projects or product leaflets. That is a sensitive project and must always be handled by a translation service provider who is experienced and has a command over the words. Simply using cheap translation services is not going to cut it for you. You will need to have a team of translators who you can rely on, can expect great translations and timely delivery.
And that can only be achieved by a professional translation service provider.