Google admits its translation engines are not perfect and not yet ready for “sensitive debates”

Google vice-president Vint Cerf said the use of statistical translation methods, where translations are made on the basis of probabilities and don’t rely on parsing, had vastly improved online translation.

But he warned about their reliability and said there were problems with interpreting the meaning of the same phrase in British and American English, let alone phrases in different languages. Read More...


Georgia's government recruits brigade of native English speakers to spur a linguistic revolution

The goal is to make Georgia a country where English is as common as in Sweden — and in the process to supplant Russian as the dominant second language.
The government has already lured 1,000 English speakers to Georgia, and by September, hopes to have another 500 in place so that every school in the country has at least one. Under the program, which resembles both the Peace Corps and the Teach for America program, the teachers live rent-free with Georgian families and receive a stipend of about $275 a month.
The initiative to embed these foreigners across Georgia reflects the ambitions of its Western-leaning president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who speaks excellent English and studied law at Columbia University. Read More...


Crown seeks to split trial over interpreter shortage (Canada)

The Crown is taking the rare step of asking a judge to “sever” a trial for two people accused in the same case because of a lack of qualified language interpreters, an issue plaguing the province’s justice system.
The joint trial can’t proceed as planned over the next three to four weeks because there is no accredited Arabic interpreter available for one of the defendants, Prosecutor Glenn Crisp said Wednesday. The interpreter issue has dogged the province for years, and has recently worsened as the attorney-general’s ministry struggles to impose tough new standards.
Crisp told Ontario Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra that there is only one accredited Arabic court interpreter in all of Ontario, and he is unwilling to do long trials. He asked O’Marra to split the trials of Farsi-speaker Shahin Pirouzi, 31, and Arabic speaker Mahmoud Abou Al Rashta, 41, who are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The interpreter shortage is dogging other cases.
In 2009, the province instituted a new, more comprehensive testing system for court interpreters. Of the 225 who took the test, 34 per cent failed and are considered unaccredited. Those who received a mark of between 51 and 70 per cent are “conditionally” accredited.
The Court Interpreters Association of Ontario maintains the test was unfair and doesn’t accurately reflect court conditions.


Signs and billboards in the Republic of the Philippines will be translated to either English or Filipino, if Senator Lito Lapid's bill is passed into law

Lito Lapid, Senator of the Philippines, wants all signs and billboards translated to either English or Filipino.
Senate Bill 2639 seeks to amend section 447of the Local Government Code (LGC) to require all signs, signboards, or billboards written in a foreign language other than English to bear the corresponding Filipino or English translation.
Under the LGC, the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Sangguniang Bayan are required to “regulate the display of and fix the license fees for signs, signboards, or billboards at the place or places where the profession or business advertised thereby is, in whole or in part, conducted.”
Under Lapid’s bill, the LGC provision shall also be made to say that the said “signs, signboards, or billboards shall be written in Filipino or English, or, if written in a foreign language other than English, shall bear corresponding Filipino or English translation. Read More...


New centre for translations inaugurated in New Delhi (India)

St Stephen’s College inaugurated its Centre for Translations on Thursday thus opening doors for all literary enthusiasts and linguists in the university. The centre aims at translating academics texts and books of cultural importance into vernacular and foreign languages. An initiative of principal Valson Thampu, the centre has already got eminent professors and alumni on board for carrying out translation projects. The centre will also introduce a course on translation in July this year.
Those not studying in Delhi University can also apply for the course on translation which will most likely be a diploma course. Read More...