The New Goal of Quality Translation

QTLaunchPad is a European Commission-funded collaborative research initiative dedicated to overcoming quality barriers in machine and human translation and in language technologies. It is preparing for a large-scale translation quality initiative for Europe. The QTLaunchPad consortium consists of world-leading research centres:


The need for high-quality translation

High-quality translation is in greater demand today than ever before. Europe is the region where the lack of fast, affordable quality translation hurts the most. Despite considerable progress in machine translation (MT), which has enabled many new applications for automatic translation, the quality barriers for outbound translations (i.e., translations to be published or distributed outside of an organisation) have not yet been overcome. As a result, the volume of translation today fall far short of what is needed for optimal business operations and legal requirements. European industry, administration, and society all urgently need progress in translation technologies to fulfill existing translation needs, to extend multilingual communication to additional languages and services (e.g. to conquer untapped markets), and to reduce costs associated with commitments to linguistic diversity.

Today’s Machine Translation cannot meet the need for quality translation

Although the quality of Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and other market leaders of automatic gist translation keeps improving, their output is still unusable in practice for almost all outbound translation demands, even as a source for cost‐effective post‐editing (in which human translators correct MT errors to produce usable output). Today, nearly all on‐going MT research is dedicated to gradual improvements of statistical gist translation. Only a few groups are seriously trying to tackle the issue of quality in a systematic way with the required long‐range perspective. Compared to overall R&D budgets for MT, little funding goes directly to dedicated high-quality translation technology, and compared to budgets of other research fields with similar economic potential, it is truly negligible.

Whereas the large, generic gist translation services of Google, Microsoft and others do not offer business opportunities for small- and medium‐sized enterprises, quality translation technology actually does, because it requires strong specialisation and close cooperation between technology providers, translation service providers, and corporate customers.

Extending the opportunity for human translators

Today’s human translators work in a technology-centric environment, but the deployment of this technology is sub-optimal. Humans are employed for repetitive, boring tasks that could be handled effectively by machines while interesting tasks that require the human touch are frequently left undone. Improving the quality of translation technologies and their ability to detect where human intervention is needed will enable human translators to focus on the interesting, high-value aspects of their jobs, thus making their contributions more valuable and rewarding. QTLaunchPad aims to improve the standing of human translators and the quality of the technologies and resources that form an essential part of their working environment.


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