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There are some criteria for classifying translation:

1) The first one is based on who does the translation. These days translation may be done by a human translator or by computer.

2) Form of speech: according to this criterion, translation as a written form, sight translation (or translation-at-sight, on-sight translation) as the oral translation of written text, and interpreting as oral translation of oral discourse are differentiated. This criterion also involves subtitling, that is visual translation involving the superimposition of written text onto the screen, and dubbing, or the replacement of the original speech by a voice track which attempts to follow as closely as possible the timing, phrasing and lip movements of the original dialogue.

3) Source text perception: a translator can see or hear the text.

4) Time lapse between the source text perception and translation: consecutive and simultaneous interpreting.

5) Number of languages in translation situation: one-way or two-way translation.

6) Direction of translation: direct translation, that is, translation into the mother-tongue, and inverse translation, or translation into a foreign language.

7) Methods of interpreting: note-taking interpretation, phrase-by-phrase interpretation

8) Functional style and genre of the text: literary works and informative texts.



The first idea of machine translation is known to have been expressed in 1933 by the Soviet engineer Petr Smirnov-Troyansky but it is not he but Warren Weaver who is credited as the founding father of Machine Translation (MT) research.17 The first demonstration of an MT system took place in 1954 in Georgetown University, U.S.A., where the experiment of making a computer translate words from Russian into English was conducted.

Machine translation is based on analysis and synthesis operations and has required many years of hard work and frustrations. Sometimes the end-product of the machine translation was so ridiculous (like Out of sight, out of mind. – Слепой идиот), that in the 1960s there happened a machine translation ‘recession’. However, with third-generation computer systems emerging in the 1970s, interest in machine translation was revived. Word-processors appeared and today’s translators cannot imagine their lives without them.

Today, machine translation is often called computer-aided translation (CAT). CAT systems are divided into two groups: machine-aided human translation (MAHT) and human-aided machine translation (HAMT). The difference between the two lies in the roles of computer and human translator.

In MAHT, a translator makes the translation, then uses the computer as a tool for typing, checking spelling, grammar, style; for printing the target text, for looking up words in electronic dictionaries and data bases, for getting references on CD-ROMs and other sources, for consulting about contexts, for discussing problems in the web, for seaching a job, etc.

In HAMT, the translation is automated, done by a computer but requiring the assistance of a human editor. There are two phases of human help: pre-editing and post-editing. In pre-editing, an operator (or a customer) prepares the text for input. A special computer translation program transfers the text from one language to another. Then a translator does the post-editing, mostly by correcting the word usage.

Machine translation has a number of advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is, first and foremost, its fast speed, which saves time, so important these days. The computer is tireless; it can work day and night. Now that there are lap-tops, a computer is a very flexible and convenient tool: it can accompany a translatoranywhere. Computers are also of great help to disabled people, especially computers working with a human voice.

On the other hand, computers are restricted to the materials. They can translate only clichéd texts. They cannot translate unpredictable texts, like fiction, for example. Usually they provide ‘raw translation’. Another disadvantage is that they are still rather expensive. They require constant upgrading, which is usually not cheap. Computer viruses are a serious danger to work. And computers are not absolutely safe for human health, either.


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