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Appendix 1 Experiments in Sight Translation and Full Translation In 1963, an experiment in sight translation was conducted by Dr. H. Wallace Sinaiko of the Institute for Defense Analyses ("Teleconfer- encing, Preliminary Experiments," Research Paper P-108, IDA Nov. 1963~. Sight translation is a procedure in which written material being received via teleprinter is read and a translation is dictated to a typist simultaneously. In this experiment, profes- sional conference interpreters translated the complete text of the minutes of the 921st meeting of the U.N. Security Council into English and French. This experiment showed that the accuracy of the sight transla- tion was uniformly high and that when the interpreters were work- ing in an unaccustomed direction, i.e., English into French or French into English, both the time required for the sight translation and the number of errors were increased somewhat, although not seriously. Another experiment (full translation) used highly experienced Department of State translators in two-man translating - review teams. The partners in each team divided the incoming batches of material between themselves, each translating a part and then re- viewing the part translated by his colleague. The quality of the translations was very high, but scarcely higher than the sight translation. COMPARISON OF SIGHT AND FULL- TRANSLATION ME THODS Time, hr :Rate, words per min Original U.N. Security Council Meeting, consecutive interpretation 2.0 102.0 Sight translation 9.7 21.0 E`u11 translation 37.6 5.4 Although the sight translation was four times faster than the full translation and of comparable quality, it would be dangerous to con- clude from this that present translation output could be quadrupled 35
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by use of the sight-translation method. Since the material trans- lated in this experiment was, presumably, all straight text, it lent itself nicely to this type of translation. It is doubtful that such a system could operate with the same efficiency on scientific texts containing photographs, charts, tables, formulas, and other graphics. Nevertheless, the Committee feels that certain features of this system might be applicable to certain circumstances. One agency in Washington that uses the dictation method states that on texts that are suitable (few graphics to be inserted) the daily output per translator is doubled—from 2,400 to about 5,000 words. These experiments stress an important difference between human and machine approximation in translation. Once the deeper mean- ing of the content of a text is grasped, the human translator im- mediately leaps to relatively grammatical output. The time taken by him in successive approximation probably involves choices among optional transformations, seeking the best base from which final stylistic polishing may be made in order to recapture the flavor of the original. On the other hand, the machine does its approximating by moving through successive choices among un- grammatical versions. Therefore, it would seem that there are good reasons why cheap, hasty, and truncated jobs might be better done by humans than by machines. 36
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