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The Proper Place of Men and Machines in Language Translation


The only way in which the power of computers has been brought to bear on the problem of language translation is machine translation, that is, the automation of the entire process. Machine translation is an excellent research vehicle but stands no chance of filling actual needs for translation which are growing at a great rate. In the quarter century during which work on machine translation has been going on, there has been considerable progress in relevant areas of computer science. However, advances in linguistics, important though they may have been, have not touched the core of this problem. The proper thing to do is therefore to adopt the kinds of solution that have proved successful in other domains, namely to develop cooperative man–machine systems. This paper proposes a translator's amanuensis, incorporating into a word processor some simple facilities peculiar to translation. Gradual enhancements of such a system could eventually lead to the original goal of machine translation.

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Kay, M. The Proper Place of Men and Machines in Language Translation. Machine Translation 12, 3–23 (1997).

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  • natural language
  • machine translation