Translation Industry News | 18.07.2009

La Tribune experiences automatic translation problems

French newspaper, La Tribune, has been using automatic translation as a cost-saving measure, but the results have fallen far short of what they might have expected had they made use of professional translation services.

A number of headlines have highlighted the limitations of machine translation, with the paper publishing stories such as ‘The Chinese car in ambush’ and ‘Ryanair loan to make travel of the passengers upright’.

The newspaper’s editors have admitted that this policy is still at an early stage, but have conceded that they will need to hire a person in order to edit the translations, which seems a damning assessment of the quality of machine translation.

“The aim is to be able to offer business news in different languages to reach a new public on the Internet” said the head of new media at La Tribune, Astrid Arbey.

The newspaper is currently attempting translation into English, German, Spanish and Italian, but translation software is not capable of matching the quality produced by a professional translator.

In contrast, the BBC, which translates documents into 30 different languages, always makes use of a journalist speaking the language in question.

Mike Gardner, speaking on its behalf, said:

“The whole point is that if you want news that has a resonance, you want journalists doing that.”

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