Browse Prior Art Database

The Proper Place of Men and Machines in Language Translation

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000128912D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Sep-20
Document File: 14 page(s) / 53K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Kay, M.: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

The world is badly in need of translators. Almost nobody denies this. The number of pairs of languages between which translations must be made and the number and types of documents involved is constantly increasing. There is not enough money to invest the profession with the status that would attract more people to it and that it certainly deserves. But we are fortunate to be children of the age of computers and it is to them that we naturally turn. A computer is a device that can be used to magnify human productivity. Properly used, it does not dehumanize by imposing its own Orwellian stamp on the products of the human spirit and the dignity of human labor but, by taking over what is mechanical and routine, it frees human beings for what is essentially human. Translation is a fine and exacting art, but there is much about it that is mechanical and routine and, if this were given over to a machine, the productivity of the translator would not only be magnified but his work would become more rewarding, more exciting, more human. It is altogether right that we should look to the computer. Indeed, if the need for translation is as great as it is said to be, the computer is our only hope.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 6% of the total text.

Page 1 of 14

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

©; Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, October, 1980

The Proper Place of Men and Machines in Language Translation

by Martin Kay

CSL-80-1 1 October 1980
(I) Xerox Corporation 1980

Abstract: The only way in which the power of computers has been brought to bear on the problem of language translation is machine translation, that is, the automation of the entire process. Machine translation is an excellent research vehicle but stands no chance of filling actual needs for translation which are growing at a great rate. In the quarter century during which work on machine translation has been going on, there has been considerable progress in relevant areas of computer science. However, advances in linguistics, important though they may have been, have not touched the core of this problem. The proper thing to do is therefore to adopt the kinds of solution that have proved successful in other domains, namely to develop cooperative man-machine systems. This paper proposes a translator's amanuensis, incorporating into a word processor some simple facilities peculiar to translation. Gradual enhancements of such a system could eventually lead to the original goal of machine translation.

A version of this paper will appear in-Statistical Methods in Linguistics. CR Categories: 3.42.

Key words and phrases: Natural Language, Machine Translation.

XEROX

PALO ALTO RESEARCH CENTER 3333 Coyote Hill Road / Palo Alto / California 94304

INTRODUCTION

The world is badly in need of translators. Almost nobody denies this. The number of pairs of languages between which translations must be made and the number and types of documents involved is constantly increasing. There is not enough money to invest the profession with the status that would attract more people to it and that it certainly deserves. But we are fortunate to be children of the age of computers and it is to them that we naturally turn. A computer is a device that can be used to magnify human productivity. Properly used, it does not dehumanize by imposing its own Orwellian stamp on the products of the human spirit and the dignity of human labor but, by taking over what is mechanical and routine, it frees human beings for what is essentially human. Translation is a fine and exacting art, but there is much about it that is mechanical and routine and, if this were given over to a machine, the productivity of the translator would not only be magnified but his work would become more rewarding, more exciting, more human. It is altogether right that we should look to the computer. Indeed, if the need for translation is as great as it is said to be, the computer is our only hope.

When the computer is improperly used, its effects are, of course, quite different. This happens when the attempt is made to mechanize the non-mechanical or something whose mechanistic substructure science has not yet been revealed. In other words, it happens when we atte...