What is Statistical Machine Translation?


Over the past few years, a transformation has taken place in machine translation tools as rule-based translation systems have given way to statistical language analysis techniques that use known translations (e.g., United Nations archives and other open content) to derive nuances and meanings not easily addressed by rule-based systems. Tools like Google Translate have used statistical methods to move machine translation to the point where it is now a viable, low-cost, and easy option for automated, rapid translation on web content. While the translation tools are not yet perfect, they are fairly accurate in most cases, and are well-suited for credible on-the-fly translations.

The ability to embed translation tools quickly and easily into websites such that the viewer may choose a preferred language removes the need to prepare individual copies of online material in different languages. This simplifies upkeep and maintenance as well as making it easier to deploy new content quickly. Statistical machine translation is an increasingly robust and low-cost option that has developed to the point where it is a viable and easy solution for museums looking to make general information easily available in multiple languages.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • its relevance is profound to anyone who has tried to work in a foreign language context -- it makes communication possible and extremely simple. SMT puts a professional translator in your inbox, and on web pages as you browse. it opens the door to your programs and curricula to speakers of other languages. In my experience, it has the potential to make the world a less confounding place. If you have not tried Google Translate, try it now! - Larry Larry Aug 31, 2010
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • your response here
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Statistical Machine Translation can have the potential to provide content to a wide audience where this content is translated into their local language accurately and seamlessly. This is a relatively new area that is starting to mature some. This report provides an overview of this technology and the benefits it provides: http://www.multilingual.com/downloads/printSupp111.pdf - KeeneH KeeneH Aug 31, 2010
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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