Can computer translators beat humans? 機器翻譯能打敗人工翻譯嗎?

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詞彙: language and translation 語言和翻譯

For me, it was bacon. There I was, standing in the streets of Medellin, Colombia, looking hungrily at a delicious empanada. The sign read ‘queso y tocino’. Because I’d got my tongue round some essential Spanish vocabulary, I knew that ‘queso’ was cheese. But ‘tocino’? I typed it into my smartphone translation app. What came back? ‘Tocino’. I later learned that means ‘bacon’ in the local lingo.

Computer-assisted translation is popular. Google Translate, for example, is used by more than 500 million people. But while convenient and easy to use, they are hardly perfect. Now, dropping the odd expression now and again is hardly important on an informal conversational level – as might happen to a tourist on holiday. But in more formal circumstances, such as a medical or legal discussion, the wrong vernacular can be disastrous. So, can a computer translator ever equal a human?

The technology has come a long way. These days, people can wear a ‘translation earpiece’.  These pick up the foreign terminology and translate it directly to the wearer. Andrew Ochoa, chief executive of US start-up Waverly Labs, a producer of one such earpiece, says they work by ‘combining a network of algorithms and speechrecognition technology’.  But they have limitations. Firstly, there’s a delay while the phrase is translated. How long often depends on the connection strength. Secondly, they aren’t able to communicate human sentiment well.

Human conversation is subtler than just the words used. It has tone, attitude, nuance, for example. “If you want to create a relationship… you need a human translator to make it sound natural,” Zoey Cooper, brand and content director at Wordbank, a global marketing and translation agency, told the BBC.

So, while many professional translators do use computer-assisted translation tools to help them with the repetitive nature of translation, context is important. It might work well for a survey or instruction manual, but for important human-to-human speech, and for the time being at least, better to use a translator, or your message might get garbled or lost in translation.

詞彙表

get your tongue round 正確發出……音
vocabulary 詞彙
translation 翻譯
lingo 語言
expression 表達
conversational 交談的,口語的
discussion 討論
vernacular 本地話,方言
terminology 術語
speech-recognition 語音識別
sentiment 情緒
subtle 微妙的
tone 口氣
nuance 細微差別
sound natural 聽起來很通順、自然
context 語境
garble 讓(話語或信息)變得含糊不清,易引起誤會
lost in translation 在翻譯中遺失了

測驗與練習

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What kind of food did the author want to buy in Colombia?

2. True or false? No one uses computer-assisted translation these days.

3. When can a computer-assisted translation error be a big problem?

4. How do translation earpieces work?

5. What are the disadvantages of translation earpieces?

2 選擇意思恰當的單詞或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. I’m quite good at languages, but I find Russian difficult to get my _______.

tongue round                tongue down                  mouth round             head down

2. ‘Plagiarism’ is a word you’ll hear a lot in academic _______.

translation                   expression                       vernacular                 sentiment

3. The radio message was _______ by interference from the storm.

lost in translation         garbled                             nuanced                    discussed

4. He says he’s sorry, but without _______, so I’m not sure I believe him.

translation                   discussion                        sentiment                  context

5. I am your teacher, young man, and I don’t appreciate your _______.

context                        garble                               nuance                      tone

答案

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。  

1. What kind of food did the author want to buy in Colombia?
The author wanted to buy a ‘queso y tocino’ (cheese and bacon) empanada.

2. True or False? No one uses computer-assisted translation these days.
False. Google Translate, for example, is used by more than 500 million people.

3. When can a computer-assisted translation error be a big problem?
In formal circumstances, such as a medical or legal discussion, the wrong vernacular can be disastrous.

4. How do translation earpieces work?
They combine a network of algorithms and speech-recognition technology.

5. What are the disadvantages of translation earpieces?
There is a delay while the sentence is translated and they aren’t able to communicate sentiment well.

2 選擇意思恰當的單詞或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. I’m quite good at languages, but I find Russian difficult to get my tongue round.

2. ‘Plagiarism’ is a word you’ll hear a lot in academic vernacular.

3. The radio message was garbled by interference from the storm.

4. He says he’s sorry, but without sentiment, so I’m not sure I believe him.

5. I am your teacher, young man, and I don’t appreciate your tone.