Presented to CLTA annual meeting at Washington, D.C. November 17, 2001
Xie, Tianwei 謝天蔚
California State University, Long Beach
What is Automatic Translation?
Automatic translation (AT) or machine translation (MT) is the use of a computer program to translate input text from one national language to another while maintaining the original document format.
With the rapid development of AT, some web-based AT (WBAT) programs appear on the Internet to meet the needs of translating a great number of web pages from one language into another. Some students of foreign languages take advantage of these easily accessible programs to do their homework such as translation assignments. Teachers' reaction to students' use of AT varies. Some favor and some oppose.
* Is the quality of AT or WBAT good enough for students' learning purposes?
* Should we, foreign language instructors, allow our students to use AT for learning purposes?
* If yes, in what way and to what extent should we use it? If not, what are the reasons to explain to the students?
How WBAT Works
* Web page translation: Users type in the URL of a web page and will get the translated version of the web page in a target language.
* Text translation: Users type in any text (from one word to a paragraph), submit the text and will get the translation.
* File translation: Users upload a created file, submit it to the server and will get the translated version.
* E-mail message translation: Users send an e-mail message to a server and will receive the translated message in their e-mail account.
Quality of AT
A traditional example: 'out of sight, out of mind' was translated as "盲痴
The Ding cloud, ask you, you do miss homeland? Thinks, I very think the daddy, mother. 想你boyfriend? Also thinks. What do he do work? He are doctor. You have do not have the younger sister? I do not have the younger sister, I have the elder sister. Does your elder sister work in where? She in bank work, his spouse in bookstore work. She have the child? Has. They frequently write to me believe, I also frequently write the letter to them.
They? They very are all good. I tell the elder sister, you are my good friend. My elder sister asks you are good.
Thanks. Asks they is good.
English to Chinese
* The web automatic translation programs vary in function and quality and they are still immature.
* The automatic translation programs may help students in some activities, e.g. vocabulary and phrase translation, but they are of little help in sentence or discourse translation. The students may be confused sometimes.
* Teachers should be cautious in using the AT services and alert students not to rely on them for learning languages.
How to Use WBAT
* Indirect use:
o Create assignments
o Instructor uses WBAT to get translated version and ask students to complete tasks
* Direct use:
o Create assignments. Send the assignments to students and ask students to use WBAT
Target languages: Japanese, English, simplified or traditional Chinese, Korean, French, German, Italian and Spanish
Function: web page translation
Other features: This service only offers translation of the Web sites linked to the INPAKU Web site.
Golden Beijing Translation Port 金桥译港世界通 by Netat.net
Chinese version: http://www.netat.net/file.htm
English version: http://www.netat.net/english/index.htm
Chinese => English, Japanese
English, Japanese => Chinese
Function: web page, text, file (txt, html and rtf files) and e-mail translation (Send email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, the translated version will be sent back to the sender.)
Other features: Chat in your preferred language. The messages will be displayed in both languages (Chinese and English). http://www.netat.net/esalonchat.htm
Readworld 看世界 by Readworld.com
English => simplified or traditional Chinese
Function: web page, text and e-mail translation (send English e-mail messages to email@example.com and the e-mail message will be translated and sent back to the user)
Systranet by Systranet.com