Internet Translators for all European Languages
Our mission is to highlight quality and to increase confidence in machine translation.
Multilingualism is deeply embedded in the concept of the European Union. The rapid and spectacular advances in ICT technologies (in particular mobile communication and the internet) have made an unprecedented amount of content available online, which is increasingly multilingual. This has raised the need to address the problem of removing language barriers in order to make multilingual web content widely accessible. A key technology that plays a vital part in this objective is machine translation (MT).
Developing quality machine translation software is a huge scientific and financial effort, mainly due to the quantity of linguistic resources required; therefore most MT companies focus on only a few languages which are relevant for their targeted markets. As a result, there is currently no easily accessible full-coverage MT solution for all EU languages. Recently Google has published its own machine translation service that provides translation from any European language to any other - all in one place and free of charge, which gives them a huge competitive edge. However, the overall quality of their translation is often inferior to that of other MT solutions for many European languages.
This project intends to provide a viable alternative as it doesn't offer only full coverage of EU languages, but also provides for each language pair the best quality available at the time and mediates easy transfer to professional translators. The project is carried out by a consortium of European MT companies that have developed the best translation system for at least one language pair. Invitation to the consortium was based upon preliminary tests. All of the companies with the best test scores were invited and all of them decided to pool their expertise and resources to set up a common web service that will provide quality machine translation services for most EU language pairs. Quality will be assured by continuous supervision and evaluation resulting in competition between different providers on the site.
A common API makes clear for all participants the present technical requirements of such services. Positive impacts of the standard interfaces are expected, which are relying on existing standards like Unicode, XML, HTLM, HTTP and AJAX.
The evaluation and comparison of the services leads also to innovation. Providers have a better view of the differences of the systems. The recognition of weaknesses usually leads to immediate innovations. Availability of more than one translator for the same language pair opens a new field for improvements. Evaluation and ranking systems were implemented in the project.
The project developed the first European website that provides free online translation from any European language to any other. Moreover, through the competitive approaches, users are ensured to use the best quality translator available.
Providing such a system to internet users for free is an important step towards accomplishing the "progressive abolition of language barriers in accessing multilingual content on the Web". In addition, the consortium hopes that other service providers will also recognize the advantages of this partnership and join the project. Furthermore, an additional impact on professional translators is expected, as more and more translation memory software integrates machine translation, and if this service becomes integrated into translation memories it will make an impact on the efficiency with which professional translators can work and initiate the long awaited change in the industrial utilization of machine translation.