Thanks to Koehn and his team, computers no longer analyse sentences word by word but instead base their translations on whole sequences of words (phrases) to determine the most likely interpretation of a given text. Phrase-based translation reduces the restrictions imposed by the old word-based system. While a word may have several potential meanings (computers unfortunately cannot understand context), phrases usually have only one.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Lost in translation, it has happened to everyone. You just want to read an e-mail and...
||? you don't understand a single word. The dictionary doesn't do the trick. Trying to translate it yourself is nearly impossible.
||Internet Translation programs on the other hand are truly ingenious. They can translate into more than 60 languages, whether it's English, Icelandic or Spanish.
||This is all thanks to this man: Philipp Koehn, a German computer scientist at the University of Edinburgh. Koehn has made it possible that with just a few mouse clicks, we can all be masters of any foreign language. For his work in this field, he has been nominated for the European Inventor Award in the category of "Research".
||Philipp Koehn travels a lot. He knows how difficult it can be to communicate abroad. Now he is able to order a coffee anywhere in the world, with no fear of being misunderstood. All thanks to software he has developed. As 14 year old, this young scientist wrote his first software program.
||IV Philipp Koehn in German:?Mich hat schon immer fasziniert, Computern beizubringen, automatisch zu lernen. Maschinelle Übersetzung ist eine besondere Herausforderung, weil letztendlich Computer verstehen müssen, wie Menschen mit Sprache umgehen!"Translation:"I have always been fascinated with teaching computers to learn automatically. Machine translation is a special challenge, because ultimately computers need to be able to understand how people actually use language!"
||Philipp Koehn has developed a complex algorithm. This allows for a totally new type of translation. The computer now works with whole phrases. This decreases the rate of error. Philipp Koehn can explain the effect of this impressive formula with a simple example: The correct translation of the German sentence ?Es regnet wie aus Kübeln!" is "It's raining cats and dogs!"
||IV Philipp Koehn in German:?Im ursprünglichen statistischen System wurden Wörter Wort für Wort übersetzt, es ? it, regnet mit rain, aber hier am Schluss macht die Verbindung keinen Sinn mehr. Kübeln ist nicht das Wort, das als dogs übersetzt wird. ?Wie aus Kübeln" wird als ?cats and dogs" übersetzt, weil das System lernen kann aus großen Textmengen, wie man solche Redewendungen richtig übersetzt!"Translation:"In the original static system, words were translated one at a time: 'es' with 'it', 'Regen' with 'rain' but here at the end, its stops making sense. 'Kübel' is not translated as 'dogs.' 'Wie aus Kübeln' is translated as 'cats and dogs', since the system is able to learn from large amounts of text how to correctly translate idioms."
||Many language programs today are based on Koehn's software. In this way, we can translate for instance patent descriptions from English into Chinese with just a click of the mouse.
||The development continues! Together with a group of researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Koehn seeks to improve the system. In a few years, the translations should be good enough for interpreters to work with.
||IV Philipp Koehn in German:?Hier geht es uns darum, menschliche, professionelle Übersetzer bei ihrer Arbeit zu unterstützen. Und in den nächsten Jahren, wenn sich unsere Übersetzungsqualität mehr und mehr verbessert und weniger Fehler macht, können wir die Kosten für menschlichen Übersetzungsaufwand wesentlich reduzieren."Translation:"It is all about helping humans, that is professional translators with their work. And in the coming years, when the translation quality improves and makes fewer mistakes, we will be able to reduce the cost and effort of human translation significantly."
||Regardless of what the future may bring, Philipp Koehn's translation software has made our lives easier.
||If it earns him the European Inventor Award, we will know on 28 May. That's when the "Technology Oscar" will be awarded in Amsterdam.