• Mass translation architecture

    by  • December 5, 2008 • The Global Picture • 1 Comment

    100,000 pages * 80 languages == 8,000,000 pages.

    Plus versioning.

    We have enough cognitive surplus to do this kind of work. Appropedia or Where There Is No Doctor could provide the seed content.

    What’s needed is tools for mass translation – billions of translation events, quality reviewing, translation of versioned texts so that it’s easy to propagate changes from one language version to another when new content comes in… right now we just don’t have structures where you can upload 600 words of Important Text and have it be made available in every world language a few days later, unless you’ve got $10,000 to go with your 600 words.

    Global culture, right down to internet on cell phones, needs mass translation. It needs audio versions of the text read aloud by native speakers for those who cannot read, but still have a cell phone.

    As time passes, the need becomes more urgent. As communication becomes cheaper and easier, translation is more and more the critical hurdle. We need tools to leap that hurdle – like wikis that carry context, that understand the semantics of international cooperation. I think this is genuinely complex software, although bits of it might be built up from the i18n base. But the critical bit is building the model of how to do mass translation not into two or three languages, but into most of the large languages in a single pass. It’s a different goal state, a different model – not “how do I get this into French” but “how do I get this into a format 99% of the world’s population can understand?”

    A challenge for the next two decades, I think!

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    One Response to Mass translation architecture

    1. December 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm

      People over at http://www.wiki-translation.com have settled on a “pivot language” model, I think.

      Check their demo here: http://www.wiki-translation.com/tiki-index.php?page=CLWE+Demo+Screencast&bl=y

      They are at it, I’d say.

      Maybe what’s needed is someone who’ll fund both your TV idea AND this translation idea. I mean, my guess is it’ll get done anyway, only faster if funded. Whatcha think? (Translate “watcha”, hah.)

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