Juan Carlos Díaz Vásquez
By Juan Carlos Díaz Vásquez
As a terminologist and translator one of the first important lessons I’ve learned in the early years of my studies was the fact that Google Translate (GT) is not a reliable tool for accurate translations. On the contrary, the use of GT is viewed as a not very good practice in technical and specialized texts. This is mainly because of the collaborative aspect of GT. Under this model, as other globally used information platforms; such as Wikipedia, the content is uploaded by users from a wide range of educational backgrounds therefore there is a lack of quality assurance for the uploaded content.
Nevertheless, the impact of GT in terms of the number of languages (103) and the massive usage rate all over the world deserves special attention. Moreover, the participative aspect of the content and translation results provided by GT makes it very interesting to analyze its development in the future for global multilingual communication. Now, regarding this future for the global multilingual communication, the absence of indigenous languages in the case of Colombia, for example, constitutes a big concern for this future since it is contributing to the historical isolation these languages have experience. More than 150 indigenous languages have been lost ever since Spanish was stablished as the official Colombian language.
Teach You Backwards (TYB) brings a series of resources to get to know better the variety of aspects research and teaching-oriented embedded in the use of machine translation tools such as GT. In this way TYB is also a forum for participating and building better understanding on how GT can transform the lives of people all over the world using online machine translation tools.
You mention on something I did not discuss much in the TYB text: is it better for a language to be in a system like GT but done badly, or not to be done at all? In the introduction, I talk about a couple of languages where speakers have expressed pride in seeing their language get noticed by Google, even though the resulting product is unusable.