Because, of course, with our delightfully global world, we depend on translation more than we ever did. But as she writes, "If you’ve ever used them, you know that both machine translation and its cousin voice transcription often sound like kittehs on I Can Has Cheezburger? In an age where the press of a button displays an instant, error-free translation of dollars to pounds or euros to zlotys, why can’t computers get languages right?"
It's not so easy. Meek discusses some of the linguistics background as well as the business realities:
“Customers are wanting more, faster,” says Shannon Zimmerman, CEO of translation company Sajan. They want the highest-quality translations, they want machine services, and they want it yesterday. “It’s polar opposites, what they want,” Zimmerman says.
“How are you going to perform a quality check if your deadline is in the next 24 hours? You can’t,” agrees Smith Yewell, CEO of Welocalize, another translation company.
...and how computer scientists are working to improve the technology:
At a recent TAUS convention in Seattle, one presenter had the courage to demonstrate his speech-to-speech translation device to audience volunteers, who were requested to think of a sentence, any sentence.
“Get out of the car and show me your driver’s license,” said one volunteer.
The presenter spoke the words into his machine. A couple of minutes later, the machine played back the sentence in comprehensible Spanish.
“But it’s not good,” said a native Spanish-speaker. “It’s the wrong gender. It’s the wrong number.”
Want to see where they're headed... and the barriers in the way? Dive right in."
Link to Original Source