Monday, June 18, 2012

Translating Just One Word

Along with the plethora of emails lately about crowdsourcing translations (see the last post), a few people have contacted me about their new programs for “translating just one word”. I’m not sure why such programs would be useful, though their marketing folks claim it’s a convenient way of helping people read and understand websites.

Such programs won’t be successful or beneficial until machines have a way of learning context. And if computer programs are only fed with one word, they won’t be given the context anyway. As you saw a few posts back on what can go wrong with just using the dictionary to look up words, you need context and you need people’s brains in order to make sense of words, phrases, and sentences.

If you need to translate just one word, you’d be better analyzing the sentence and looking up the word while being away of the context. A program is completely unnecessary.

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