Originally posted by abacus:
Hi, I happen to have a BA in French, and I tried out babelfish after reading your post. I translated "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party." It translated it as, "Maintenant est le temps pour les tout bons hommes pour venir ŕ l'aide de la réception." It's a passable translation, except for the last word: it translated "party" as a reception or gathering, as in, "birthday party." That turned the sentence into nonsense. Very interesting. After one use, my first impression is that machine translation could be a useful tool do a rough translation to spare you some drudgery. But you have to be able to revise it. It can provide you with a very rough draft which you can then polish. So it could certainly be a time-saver.
In the final analysis, I think translation is partly science and partly art, of which a computer is incapable. It's heartening to me in a way: getting a degree in French was not a total waste of time. I've been studying computers in my free time, often regretting my choice of degree and feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to learn about computers, even after getting my A+ and MCP. This time, I was one up on the computer :-)This little exercise was a very interesting illustration to me of the limitations of the computer. This is one area where I'm skeptical that computers will ever relegate people to unemployment lines.
That said, again, I think a machine translator like babelfish could save some time.