Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays

Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays

Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays

Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays

Excerpt

In its broadest sense the subject of this volume of essays can be described as the completely automatic substitution of a different language for the language of a given text, the ideas being kept unchanged. We will leave aside, for the present, such philosophical points as the possibility of expressing any idea in written or spoken words, and the difficulties arising from the known fact that certain languages contain words descriptive of situations which have no parallel in other tongues.

Meaning of "Mechanical Translation" (MT)

In much of the work that follows it is tacitly assumed that a one-toone correspondence exists between the language of the original text and that of the translation. If this assumption is correct, then it is possible to envisage a purely mechanical process -- in the broad sense -- which, if applied to the input text, will result in an output translation, and which, if reapplied to the translation, will reproduce the original input text. Such an ideal process is, however, by no means necessary, or even possible in general. The reader will be only too familiar with the difficulties that sometimes arise in attempting to understand, unambiguously, the meaning of certain passages in his mother tongue.

So much for purely philosophical views of translation, which are hardly likely to find any general measure of agreement either among linguists or among students of ideas. We proceed to a more special consideration which is bounded on the one side by what is useful and on the other by what is practicable.

At the very lowest level of machine aids to translation is the project of constructing a mechanical dictionary to assist a human translator . . .

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