Voice or Machine Translation?

Post Survey Note: Thank you to all those who completed the survey. It’s no longer live, but you can see the final results in the article.

For the last couple of years I’ve been enjoying the TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg.  It’s been a really interesting time for me helping to fill in a lot of gaps and widen my technical knowledge around localization, and introducing me to the world of Technical Communication in general.  This latter part was particularly interesting because half of our business at SDL relates to this; so having spent my time since 2006 working with our localization products it’s been an eye opener in many ways.  I have done this in my own time and not as part of my job, but TCLoc does look like a course that’s tailor made for SDL employees!

The course work is pretty much all over now and I’m working on my dissertation which is the reason for this blog article today.  I’ve chosen to question the effectiveness of voice recognition technology for dictation, compared to the use of machine translation, in particular neural machine translation.  I have many opinions around this of course, but what I’m really interested in is your opinion as a group of professionals who work with this technology every working day. To get this I’m hoping you’ll spend a little time to answer the questions in this article, and I’ll try to explain the reasons for each question as I go.  Each question is a simple checkbox, sometimes only one answer is allowed, sometimes multiple answers.  If you have something different to say I welcome your feedback in the comments.  There’s only seven questions, but thank you all in advance for sharing your views on this and helping me with this task.

An important point here is that this is not just for Trados Studio users!  I’m interested in the feedback of all professionals working in this field irrespective of the tools used.

The Survey

Do you or don’t you use dictation?

To begin with I’m interested in how many of you actually use speech recognition for your translation work.  Sometimes it sounds as though being able to dictate is something every translator wants to be able to do… but do they?

If you don’t use voice technology at all, then why is this?  Certainly in the last few years we’ve heard from a very ‘vocal’ part of our profession who use it regularly.

If you do use it then what is it that ensures you use this in preference to typing your translations?

What about Machine Translation?

I can still recall the times when the idea of using machine translation was considered laughable and very few professional translators would use it.  Many were curious, and of course worried about whether or not this technology would replace them, but it was mainly the butt of a good joke!  Today however things are different.  Most translation tools provide a variety of plugins for machine translation and it’s probably fair to say that most translators working with CAT tools today take advantage of it.  Or is it?

Some CAT tools provide the ability to work interactively with machine translation as well as supporting an ability to pre-translate and post-edit.  So if you do use machine translation, here’s a few questions… tick all that apply.

One of the benefits of neural machine translation is its fluency.  The quality of the sentences have become incredibly good, especially for some languages, and this is the main reason we are seeing so many new solutions appearing on the market and also why so many translators have adopted its use today.  But this is a double edged sword, because it’s much harder to spot the mistakes and neural machine translation will sometimes sacrifice accuracy for fluency.  Because of this the processes in place for quality assurance need to be really good, especially when post-editing.

One way to make this easier and still retain your productivity is to use speech synthesis.  What I mean by this is you can use voice technology in the form of text to speech to read the source, or the target, to you.  This way, for example, you could listen to the source and read the target simultaneously while you are post-editing.  Perhaps not a solution for everyone, but for professionals with the right skillsets it might be a useful productivity boost and assist with the quality control while post-editing.

So my questions here would be…

And my final question in this short survey is related to whether you, as a user of dictation solutions, think the ongoing improvements in machine translation will supersede the productivity gains you have seen through dictating all your work.  There could be a variety of answers around a question like this so just tick all that apply and of course feel free to add in any additional comments of your own.

Survey over!

That’s it… and if you made it this far and have completed the survey thank you very much!  Before you go, I added some sharing buttons at the end of this blog, so please feel free to share this through the social platforms you use and hopefully you can help me to improve the significance of the results with a larger data set to play with.

And of course if you have any opinions you’d like to share that won’t fit into anything I’ve said so far feel free to post your comments below… I’ll welcome the discussion.

The versatile regex based text filter in Trados Studio…

After attending the xl8cluj conference in Romania a few weeks ago, which was an excellent, and very technical conference for translators, I thought it was about time I wrote an article around the things you can do with the Regular Expression Delimited Text filter since it is so useful for solving all kinds of tasks related to text based files that don’t fit any of the out of the box formats available in the product.  Files such as software string files and csv files are common examples of where understanding how to work with this customisable file type can yield many benefits.  So this article is food for thought and a few things that might be helpful to you in the future.  It’s also pretty long (I’m not kidding!), so maybe grab a cup of coffee before you start to go through it!

Continue reading

Reinvent the AV wheel?

One of the oldest jokes in the world of course… so I had a little fun this morning playing around with photoshop and reinventing the wheel for this bicycle.  It looks a little funny and I’m pretty sure it won’t be as smooth a ride as it could be.  When I think about Audiovisual Translation this is the picture I have in my mind when I think about adding the ability to create a source text from a video that was provided without one in a CAT tool.  Why do I think this?  For a couple of reasons really:

Continue reading

The “Old Farts Language Code Club”…

The Old Farts Language Code Club! This is a new club, inspired by a comment in the SDL Community from a prospective member. I’m not sure yet of the age at which you can qualify for membership, but in addition to the age requirements, which may have stringent rules to prevent any young whippersnappers from joining, it’s essential that prospective members have a good grasp of the language codes used in Trados Studio. I’m also not sure of the demand, so I may open a waiting list that could include anyone who already makes good use of the language codes in Trados Studio but isn’t an old fart yet!

Continue reading

Radical Anxiety Termination…

… Really Awful Tucker, Radically Altered Terminology, Rheumatoid Arthritis Test, Race Against Time, Recurrent Acute Tonsillitis, Real Acquisition Technology, Republicans Against Trump… the list goes on!  All with the same acronym RAT.  A comment on the SDL AppStore this week relating to a new plugin called the RAT inspired me to write this article this evening.  Everyone is loving this plugin so far but one user had an objection to the name, the acronym, because he didn’t get it.  Actually to be fair someone else on the SDL Community didn’t like it either… Rats are dirty! Continue reading

Santa’s little helper…

Santa’s little helper… and if any of you are fans of “The Simpsons” I’m not talking about a greyhound… is a xmas gift from the SDL Community and SDL AppStore teams to make it easier to get help when you’re working in SDL Trados Studio.  The SDL Community has become incredibly busy in the last few years, so on the whole I’m confident people have learned how to find where to post and navigate through the myriad of forums available to them.  Certainly we have some good short links and I have written about the communities before:

Continue reading

Information 4.0… we’re all doomed!

All doomed?  What exactly does that mean and why am I writing about it?  Over the last year I’ve been back at school studying for the TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg (an excellent program if you’re wondering!). A module we’re currently working through is Information 4.0 and this… I think I can safely say this… has provoked more discussion and emotion than any of us expected.  This is partially because Ray Gallon asked us at the start of the course how we felt about artificial intelligence and looked at it in the broader sense and not just within the localization arena.  Now, as interesting as it is I don’t propose to make this a really wide discussion, although you should feel free to continue the discussion in the comments if you have strong feelings about it, but I would like to explore a few things I’ve been thinking about that are related and perhaps closer to the topics I usually write about.

Continue reading

The Story of “Studio” Colours…

Once upon a time, of course, the translation environment was just black and white with gray in between.  Black and white and gray?  The AppStore gods were understandably bored and angry, so they went looking for other colours to brighten the world for their users.  The resulting colours emerged from the Microsoft Word palette resulting in fifteen colours to choose from.  The AppStore gods were so happy with these colours they decided to paint the translation environment from the AppStore.  They opened Visual Studio and flung the colours around, resulting in a brand new app. they called “Wordlight” and a new colourful feature for the “Community Advanced Display Filter”.

Continue reading

A translator’s paradise?

Every year I’m lucky enough to attend a few industry conferences which always provide an excellent environment for gathering feedback, spending time on a one to one basis with people working in the industry and generally getting a reality check on the things I do on a day to day basis.  It’s true that I spend a lot of time working in the SDL Community where I do get exposed to the sort of problems people are trying to solve, but it’s really not the same as the exposure you get at a conference, especially if you attend with an open mind and a willingness to learn.  So I always look forward to attending the few events each year that I do.

Continue reading