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Distributed Translation Project 227

moon unit beta writes "New Scientist has this story about a new plan to build a multi-language translation database called the World Wide Lexicon, using a distributed community of volunteers. The designer compares it to a distributed computing project and believes it could make it easier to translate more obscure languages."
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Distributed Translation Project

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  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @03:46PM (#3292312) Homepage
    If it's going to detect when I'm "less busy." Is this going to pop up a window in my face every time I spend more than a couple minutes mentally composing prose or code? The potential for user annoyance here seems incredibly high to me...

    Distributed computing is an elegant and efficient use of otherwise untapped resources--cycles that are literally "going to waste" (in one sense). By hitting up the users, though, you're attempting to use a resource that is anything but untapped: that user's time. It might work, but let's not bill this as anything other than what it is--asking for volunteer work from people.

    Which isn't really that new an idea.
  • it'll never work. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by banks ( 205655 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @03:48PM (#3292338) Homepage
    From the article:

    "The problem is you generally need the context to get a good translation,"

    This is very, very true. Any competent translator can tell you that it's almost impossible to get a fully accurate translation from just a few lines or words... context is absolutely imperative. This looks a lot like vaporware to me.

    And then what about when the smart-ass teenaged year old kid signs up, gets bored and starts translating to obscene or nonsensical results? They'll need some sort of moderation system, if this is to work at all.

    Thanks, newscientist, for bringing us another well researched and peer-reviewed story, maintaining the image that a "new scientist" is one who has forgotten about the scientific method.

  • langauge wiki (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2002 @04:02PM (#3292456)
    You know what would be good is a multi-language wiki where people continually change the mapping of word to meaning. That way the meaning of the word and it's most appropriate cross-language equivelent would be "organic". Most static lexicons suck, because they are dry definitions without any cultural relativity.
  • www.logos.it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MS ( 18681 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @04:34PM (#3292648)
    Something related was already done about 6 years ago by Logos [logos.it]. It's not a network like Seti@Home, but it involves lots of people distributed all over the world. It still works - check it out!


  • by airship ( 242862 ) on Friday April 05, 2002 @06:27PM (#3293283) Homepage
    The best way to do this would be to take each source language sentence and first SPELLCHECK it (something rarely done on /.) then mark it up as to meaning and sentence structure. For example:

    "I went to the store."

    might become:
    <noun struct="subject" def="first person pronoun">I</noun><verb tense="past" def="to go">went</verb>...
    Granted, the first markup pass would be a killer, but subsequent translations could be automated. As an added bonus, kids would get to learn grammar again.
    (Definitions should really be a URI to a universal dictionary, but then you knew that...)

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie