Translation Software

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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While flawless, automatic translation software may still be a ways off, many different translation programs can supply decent rough translations (called "gisting translations") to and from a variety of languages. Gisting translations are often provided by machine translation programs, as opposed to computer-assisted translation software, which is generally much more accurate. The functional difference between the two types of systems is that the human translator supports the computer in machine translations, and the computer supports the human translator in computer-assisted translation.

Many of the online translation services could be categorized as machine translation. Users provide the content to be translated (the source content), and the computer program provides the output in the target language. The limitations of machine translation software often result in mistranslations or awkward syntax.

Computer-Assisted Translation Software

Most of the popular commercially available translation programs are based on computer-assisted translation processes. They require the user to edit the source material as well as choose from a number of translations that may or may not be contextually or grammatically accurate. In order to have the highest degree of accuracy possible, it is generally helpful if the user is somewhat proficient in the target language.

One common strategy that allows users without target-language proficiency to successfully use computer-assisted translation is to have the program output cross translations of the source text. For example, translating a phrase from English into French would result in a number of possible direct translations, as well as re-translations of the French phrases into English. Re-translations allow the users to select the most contextually appropriate target language translations, thereby achieving a high level of accuracy.

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