ChiJi/Zher4zi4 Asian Language Translation

Automatic Machine Translation

Products to translate to and from English, Chinese, and Japanese are under development by Apropos and other companies, but Chinese and Japanese are much harder to translate than European languages. The English language and culture shares common roots with the European languages and cultures, so machine translation is relatively simple. The radically different sentence structure, conceptual framework, and cultural assumptions of the Asian languages makes translation a much more difficult problem. A simple exclamation in English or Japanese could require a paragraph to explain in the other language, and minor ambiguities in interpretataion yield radically erroneous translations that are difficult to detect by machine. Until this is sorted out, high quality translations will continue to require human interaction.

Limited Quality Translations

Limited quality translations into your native language are helpful for producing a high quality translation, given a reader with some language experience and the original source text. However, a poor quality translation sent to a native speaker will generally cause an unfavorable reaction (recall some of the poor quality human translations you have encountered). After all, is your reader not important enough for you to get the language right? Automatic machine translation from and to Asian languages presents the opportunity to get a message completely wrong, while insulting your reader!

Translation by Template

One way to achieve a high-quality document without knowing the language is to use a template program, where you select from one of hundreds of English letters, and fill in the blanks. This is fine if you want to send a letter to Mr. Tanaka saying that you are going to Tokyo on June 15 and will be staying at the Imperial Hotel. If your communications needs cannot be accommodated by one template, you will need assistance from someone who knows the language. A non-native speaker (i.e., language student) is capable of using Smart Characters to cut and paste appropriate sections from different templates into a final document.

Machine Aided Translation

Machine aided translation packages provide a practical way to enhance productivity by speeding up the process of annotating existing documents and preparing them for further examination by Smart Characters. You load the annotated text into a Smart Characters document window, annotate and analyze for understanding, then type your translation in another document window. Mid-level professional translators can expect a roughly three fold increase in productivity over using traditional methods, while beginners will achieve much greater time savings and quality improvement. The optional accessory ScAnnotate (not included) takes a Japanese or Chinese electronic document and annotates the words with pronunciations, glosses, and variable word spacing.

This background information is provided to help those unfamiliar with the Chinese or Japanese languages understand the terms and concepts discussed in the Apropos Smart Characters product literature.

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Apropos Customer Service home page 617-648-2041
Last Modified: August 28, 1996

Copyright © 1996 Apropos, Inc.