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?

  • Live transcribing of audio and video content in whatever language is very powerful - video content can provide a transcription live or for reading later on a device such as a kindle- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011
  • This can be combined with augmented reality that can generate situated translation of more than web content - see Word Lens (below). - alanwolf alanwolf Nov 20, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Copyright and IP considerations- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011
  • Translation of spoken and written language in situ and in real time.

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

  • realtime, cross border, cross cultural education, cultural integration, cross diciplinarity, Japan, Spain, China research etc- DaveP DaveP Nov 20, 2011
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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