Monday, July 06, 2009

Babylon V8

As reported here earlier, I've become enamored with Babylon translation support software, and the new version V8.0 is definitely a worthwhile improvement, if you think of it as a support tool for the translator.

For better or for worse, the company continues to include machine translation also, which is patently ridiculous and pointless.

Here is what I wrote to them:

quote (slightly edited from the original letter to the company).
I really don't understand why your company would be still keeping that stupid "translate" function in there. It is so mind-numbingly stupid, that it ceases to be funny after three tries.

Anyone who would understand what language even is, should understand that this is a categorical and structural impossibility to ever achieve. EVER. Language processing does not work in the way computer scientists seem to imagine - and I say this having read more computer science than the average Ph.D. The fundamental thinking error is to think that the mind and comprehension proceeds from the concrete to the abstract, when clearly the reverse is the case. This same issue is the underlying error behind all the nonsense about artificial intelligence. Just because a computer needs to synthesize the abstract from the concrete, and is therefore essentially structurally incompetent in higher level operations, so also it can never produce language, never mind how intricate the languages for programming it, because again of the unavoidable, fundamental flaw of having to deduce the abstract from the concrete, which is a process in which there is no conformal mapping, if the missing component of human experience is missing, which is the only conceivable guarantee that a translation is a translation and not gibberish.

Seen from this viewpoint, words don't make meaning, meaning makes words, or rather finds expression in words. Words evoke that meaning. Translation is to a) understand, and b) render into another language. This means the mind has to go up to the abstract level, and then descend again into the concreteness of another language, in proper idiom.
There is not even the remotest possiblity of a mathematical transform, or a logical transformative process on the phenomenological level of language that could ever produce a meaningful translation, except of something so trivial that you would not need a translation anyway. Like I said above, this whole notion is categorically absurd. And to persist in it, makes your company look stupid.

It sounded pretty smart when you talked about tools for translators. The translate function does not belong.

Copyright © 2009 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.