Machine translation: its scope and limits by Yorick Wilks

By Yorick Wilks

Machine Translation (MT) is either an engineering know-how and a degree of all activities with languages and computers—whenever a brand new idea of language or linguistics is on the market, an immense standards for its luck is whether it is going to increase desktop translation.

This booklet provides a background of desktop translation (MT) from the viewpoint of a tremendous author and innovator within the topic. It describes and contrasts more than a few techniques to the demanding situations and difficulties of this notable expertise through a mixture of historical papers in addition to commentaries to replace their importance, either on the time in their writing and now. This quantity chronicles the evolution of conflicting ways to MT in the direction of a a little bit skeptical consensus on destiny development. additionally incorporated is a dialogue of the latest advancements within the box and customers for the long run, that have been a lot replaced by means of the arriving of the realm extensive net.

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There are however, ways of restricting input that would destroy the point of the whole activity: for example, if we restricted ourselves to the translation of isolated sentences rather than going for the translation of paragraph length texts. Whatever Bar-Hillel (1970) says to the contrary about MT being essentially concerned with utterances, I am assuming that the only sort of MT that will impress a disinterested observer will be the translation of text. In any case, concentration on utterances can easily lead to what is in fact concentration on the trick example sentences of linguistic text books.

Facts about language are also facts, of course; and many facts about the physical world can equally well be expressed as facts about language. For example, the assertion that “drink” prefers, or requires, an animate agent might seem very close to the assertion that only animals drink, or that most drinkers are animals. Carnap’s proposed translation of statements, from what he called the “material” to the “formal” mode, was a claim about the existence of a general equivalence of this nature. It seems to me that the onus of proof is on the believers – that knowledge about the real world, in some strong sense of those words, is necessary for tasks like MT.

The preceding assumptions in no way close off discussion of the questions outstanding: they merely allow constructive work to proceed. In particular, philosophical discussion should be continued on (a) exactly what the linguist is trying to say when he says that there are linguistic forms and common sense inferences beyond the scope of any logic, and (b) exactly what the logician is trying to say when he holds in a strong form the thesis that logical form is the basis of brain coding, or is the appropriate basis for computing over natural language.

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