Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays

By William N. Locke; A. Donald Booth | Go to book overview

Foreword
THE NEW TOWER

WARREN WEAVER

Translation, from one language into another, presents subtle, important, ancient, and difficult problems.

That the problems are subtle no one can doubt. We are told, by those who are sensitive to all the beauties of the Russian language, that it is completely futile to try to translate the poetry of Pushkin into any other language -- futile not for a computer, but futile for the most able bilingual poet.

That the problems are important is impressed on us constantly by the morning and evening papers, and by the current influx of scholarly journals. On the day that I write this foreword I have been reading an article in a recent issue of Harpers Magazine. In a discussion of India, the distinguished president of Brooklyn College, Dr. H. D. Gideonse, says: "Language is not only a major problem in the communication between India and the West. It is also perhaps the greatest single challenge to the unity of India itself." For here is a subcontinent, striving to develop democratic unity, and struggling with twelve languages, each used by over ten million persons, not to mention about a hundred further languages and dialects used by smaller groups. Just to make the situation more complex, the one language that is generally understood by educated persons all over India is, at the same time, the language that political history requires them to disdain.

That they are ancient problems is even more obvious. Sometime between the fifth and the twelfth centuries, Jewish scholars wrote down, in the Masoretic text, a story that very probably had existed in some written form since the fourth century before Christ, and that may have been written down a century earlier than that.

This story begins: "Now the whole earth was of one language and one speech." At least it begins that way if you look in the King James Revised Version of the Bible. If you consult the Revised Standard

-v-

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Machine Translation of Languages: Fourteen Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword the New Tower v
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Historical Introduction 1
  • 1: Translation 15
  • Language and Invariants 23
  • Some Methods of 2 ◆ Mechanized Translation 24
  • The Design of an Automatic 3 ◆ Russian-English Technical Dictionary 47
  • References 65
  • 4: A Preliminary Study of Russian 66
  • References 85
  • 5: Some Problems of the "Word" 86
  • References 103
  • 6: Speech Input 104
  • References 117
  • 7: Storage Devices 119
  • 8: The Georgetown-I.B.M. Experiment 124
  • The Mechanical Determination 9 ◆ of Meaning 136
  • References 164
  • 10: □ Model English 165
  • References 173
  • 11: □ a Practical Development Problem 174
  • 12: ◆ Idioms 183
  • References 192
  • 13: ◆ Some Logical Concepts or Syntax 194
  • References 207
  • Syntax and the Problem 14 ◆ of Multiple Meaning 208
  • References 226
  • Bibliography 227
  • Index 237
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