Mariella Zeginigg (left) and Anita Wilson talking about neural machine translation [Photo: Michael Valent] Mariella Zeginigg (left) and Anita Wilson talking about neural machine translation [Photo: Michael Valent]
Sep 24


Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is such a hot topic it prompted tekom Austria to partner up with the Vienna Economic Chamber for its first expert breakfast last month.

Providing the background basics of NMT was Dr. Dagmar Gromann, who also set out possible future developments for NMT. The Assistant Professor at the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna works primarily on this topic. As the icing on the cake, she presented  demonstrated the challenges that the so-called variety linguistics pose to NMT. To illustrate this, she used the regional differences between the German used in Austria and Germany. Much to the amusement of the audience, the Austrian word “Mistkübel” (i.e. “Mülleimer”) was turned into a “dung bucket” by an NMT engine.

In addition, Dagmar Gromann gave the technical writers in the audience useful tips on pre-editing texts. Adhering to these rules when creating a text will lead to improved MT output.

The NMT from the perspective of the language service provider was presented by Anita Wilson,  CEO at EUATC Network member eurocom Translation Services and Mariella Zeginigg, Head of Language Services at the Vienna-based company. They focused on how NMT is changing the work of translators, translation departments and translation service providers. As, both are familiar with the pitfalls of NMT in everyday translation. One of the main points made was that client expectation management is vital. Examples of best practice illustrated what needs to be considered when introducing NMT. Their take-home messages were: it works for some content types, but not for others, works well for some language pairs, and not so well for others; it can save money, but be expensive to set up.