Hello everybody,

It is a pleasure for me to be afforded this opportunity of discussing some of our shared interests in this forum, the QT21 blog on the FIT webpage. I hope we can have fruitful discussion over the course of the next few weeks.

Let me briefly introduce myself. I studied Computational Linguistics because language is one of my passions. In my PhD, I focused more on the theoretical side of formal semantics. I am now working at the Language Technology Lab at DFKI where I am working as Senior Researcher and Lab Manager. The first project I was in charge of in 2010 was targeted at bridging Machine Translation (MT) research and the use of MT by translators and Language Service Providers (LSPs). Although MT was still in its infancy as far as quality is concerned, we already experimented with post-editing productivity, hybrid translation workflows (including TMs), difficult languages, etc., which are all still hot topics today.

I soon realised that there was a huge gap in mutual understanding between MT researchers and language professionals. Since then I have always tried to bring both worlds closer together and to stimulate communication in several projects, at events, meetings, and conference. In many activities, FIT and members of FIT have been involved and I am now looking forward to this online discussion, which is a new way of communication and discussion to me!

In general, I see MT as one tool that can be used, e.g., to translate a lot of content that would not be accessible to many people otherwise (Google Translate translates 100 Billion words per day). Another use case is pre-translation of routine texts, where MT can be seen as a more intelligent version of Translation Memories (TMs) that have been in productive use for 30 years now. Like all other tools we are working with every day, they get better when people are using them and it becomes clearer how to use them in the best way. In general, I see digital transformation as something we all should be part of and we all should help making it work so that we enjoy our work maybe even more than in the past when we were dealing with electric typewriters and VHS cassettes and the limited possibilities these tools were offering.

Having said this,we are of the opinion that MT will never replace the creative work of a human translator, working for example on translating marketing documents, so where TransCreation is needed, i.e. translation and adaptation into the target culture. The “trans” part of TransCreation will be increasingly taken over by MTt; however, the “creation” part will always be driven by humans. This shift of activity follows a natural curve where tools are built to help humans be more human.

My biggest hope is that we will become much more productive during work hours in the future so that we can spend more time with our family and friends. But I am afraid I am going off track!

Aljoscha Burchardt

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  • Published: 1 month ago on 7 November 2017