This paper concerns the misuse of online machine translation (MT) systems for lexical look-up, as if they were bilingual dictionaries. Following a review of the literature on online dictionaries, the paper reports (part of) a survey carried out among 104 university students in the United Kingdom investigating their usage of free online MT services. This paper focuses in particular on the widespread use of these MT tools for a purpose that they were not designed for, i.e. the translation of single lexical items. The 104 respondents (from an original survey of 280) had used web-based MT services in the past, and 65 of these (62.5%) reported using them for single-word lookup. This finding suggests that designers and developers of online MT services should seriously consider taking a proactive approach by treating single-word translation requests as dictionary look-up rather than translation, and/or raising the awareness of users with regard to the most (in)appropriate ways of using web-based MT software. The paper argues that it would be in the interests of those who have a stake in offering and promoting MT in the online environment (e.g. system designers, developers, and ultimately the MT vendors themselves) to manage the expectations of naïve users.

Making a Sow's Ear out of a Silk Purse: (Mis)Using Online Machine Translation Services as Bilingual Dictionaries

Gaspari F;
2007

Abstract

This paper concerns the misuse of online machine translation (MT) systems for lexical look-up, as if they were bilingual dictionaries. Following a review of the literature on online dictionaries, the paper reports (part of) a survey carried out among 104 university students in the United Kingdom investigating their usage of free online MT services. This paper focuses in particular on the widespread use of these MT tools for a purpose that they were not designed for, i.e. the translation of single lexical items. The 104 respondents (from an original survey of 280) had used web-based MT services in the past, and 65 of these (62.5%) reported using them for single-word lookup. This finding suggests that designers and developers of online MT services should seriously consider taking a proactive approach by treating single-word translation requests as dictionary look-up rather than translation, and/or raising the awareness of users with regard to the most (in)appropriate ways of using web-based MT software. The paper argues that it would be in the interests of those who have a stake in offering and promoting MT in the online environment (e.g. system designers, developers, and ultimately the MT vendors themselves) to manage the expectations of naïve users.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/894230
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