Tony O’ Dowd is Founder and Chief Architect of KantanMT, a cloud-based Machine Translation platform that is based at the Invent Building, Dublin City University, Ireland. In this blog, Tony discusses the need for Machine Translation as demand for multilingual documentation increases.

The topic of Machine Translation (MT), in particular Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) is on everyone’s lips right now. Just two weeks ago an article in ‘The Economist’ sparked major commentary on the diminishing role of ‘lingua franca’ in cross cultural communication. Reporting on the Hay Literary Festival in early February, the article discussed Mr. Ostler’s (author of “The Last Lingua Franca”) predictions of a future built around the availability of automated translation.

There are countless examples to illustrate the growing need for multilingual resources. I personally think of the growing popularity of computer based second level education and the increasing number of organisations who must produce multilingual documentation in order to successfully compete within global markets.

Globalisation has had a huge effect on the need for companies to produce low cost, high quality translations. Free automated translation platforms such as Google Translate cannot meet their needs. This has sparked a wave of global research which is funded by institutions and organisations who understand the value that lies in cost effective and high quality Machine Translation.

The European Commission (EC) is the latest major body to announce that it will be implementing Machine Translation into its translation processes. The EC says that increasing amounts of documentation coupled with pressures to keep costs down were the deciding influences in its decision. EC translators don’t seem to mind too much either as Ann Barnett confesses:

“I could do the work that I do without (machine translation), but I just like working with it…I like having something that I can pull apart and put together again.”

A reputation for being too expensive and too complex has polluted the Machine Translation industry in the past, but as more and more companies recognise the benefits of this technology-our hopes for the future are high.

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