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How Translation Tech Has Grown

From the Start to Smart Machines

Translation technology has come a long way, especially after 2015 when smart systems called neural networks became popular. These changes have made translating stuff easier and got people thinking about how we translate books and other writings. Back in 2018, a company called Massot éditions started using AI for publishing academic stuff, showing us that using AI to help translate literature is becoming more common.

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The Challenge of Translating Books

Even with all the tech improvements, translating books is still something that humans do better. This is because books often have special meanings and feelings that machines have a hard time understanding. The big challenge for AI is to translate without losing or changing the original meaning too much.

AI and Translation Work

More Use of AI in Making Translations

Publishing companies are using AI more to help with translating books. A company named Nuanxed is an example, where they use both machines and people to make sure translations keep their original quality but are also more cost-effective.

How This Affects Translators

With AI being used more, translators are talking about how this affects their jobs. The European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations is saying that translators should get fair pay when they work on AI-translated texts, pointing out that translators still need recognition and fair treatment.

Thinking About the Ethics and Quality

Saving Money vs. Doing What’s Right

There’s a big discussion on whether using AI in translation is more about saving money or doing what’s ethically right. Some publishers, like Europa Editions UK, think it’s important to keep humans in the translation process because humans can understand and interpret texts in ways AI can’t, even if AI might be cheaper.

What Works Best for Which Books

Not all books are good fits for AI translation. For example, machine translation might be okay for simple genres like crime or romance novels, but poetry and more complex literature usually need a human’s touch to truly convey the original’s depth and nuances.

What’s Next for Translators and AI

Working Together With Machines

As things keep changing, the way translators and AI tools work together will likely become more of a partnership. AI has the potential to help translate less common languages and make literature more accessible, but the unique insights and creativity of humans are still very much needed.

Exploring New Ways With AI

Bringing AI into translation opens up new ways to do things. It’s important, though, that translators stay in charge of their work, making sure AI helps without taking away the human aspect of translating literature.

Let’s dive into how AI is changing the game for translating literature, the challenges and possibilities it brings to translators, and the ethical questions about mixing tech with the craft of translation.

Online presentation of the book. Record a podcast. A young man writer, author, translator in a suit

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is neural network technology and how does it relate to translation?
  • Neural network technology refers to a type of artificial intelligence that mimics the way human brains operate, allowing machines to learn from data. In the context of translation, neural networks have significantly improved the ability of machines to translate text by understanding context and nuances more effectively than previous technologies.
  • How do AI-assisted translations compare to traditional human translations?
  • AI-assisted translations are faster and more cost-effective than traditional human translations. However, while they are good for straightforward texts, AI struggles with the nuanced language and cultural subtleties often found in literature, where human translators excel.
  • Why do translators have concerns about AI translation?
  • Translators are concerned about AI translation because it challenges the value and demand for their skills. They advocate for fair compensation and recognition, especially when their expertise is needed to refine and correct AI-generated translations.
  • Can AI translation handle all genres of literature equally well?
  • No, AI translation is not equally effective across all genres of literature. It tends to perform better with genres that have more straightforward language, such as crime or romance novels. Complex literary works, like poetry, often require the nuanced understanding and creativity of human translators.
  • What is the future of the relationship between human translators and AI?
  • The future relationship between human translators and AI is expected to be symbiotic, where AI assists in translating underrepresented languages and enhancing accessibility, while human translators provide the essential insights, creativity, and nuanced understanding that AI currently lacks.

Sources The Guardian