Automation in German <-> English translation
Background to Verbalis

Machine Translation

Full automation of the translation process is undoubtedly an attractive idea, but the sheer complexity of language use, the underspecification of meaning in communicative situations and the frequency of ambiguity rarely (if ever) make this a feasible proposition. However in many situations some automation is a very credible solution, which can have very positive benefits for business and society. Therefore, instead of attempting the impossible, we identify these situations and provide a solution to them with a pragmatic combination of advanced technology and expert human translators, who guide translations through our system with intervention at various points to ensure high quality output is achieved.

Compared to other machine translation, our system dramatically reduces the need for post-editing, providing output which enhances the work of the professional translator, whether in-house at Verbalis, or at a partner organisation.

The System

The Verbalis system has been developed to draw on stored examples of other completed translations and analogical reasoning, and so instead of guessing the possible output like rule-based systems, Verbalis uses its stored knowledge of successful solutions to translation problems. Whenever there is no exact match between new input and stored knowledge - which is the norm - Verbalis hunts around for an analogy.

The system has three core elements:

Our key points of differentiation from other approaches include:

Accuracy and quality

The quality assessment carried out by one of our clients on a substantial assignment (a 500,000-word text), revealed that:

The Company

Verbalis is a Scottish company, founded in January 1999 as a spinout from the School of Languages at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. The company has won two SMART awards (Small Firms Merit Award for Research and Technology) from the Scottish Executive's Department of Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. These were awarded to assist the development of our core innovative technology.

We are now based in Livingston, Scotland, with good motorway links to the main Scottish cities and close to Edinburgh airport.

Over the past three years, we have carried out a number of projects for leading global software companies, which have proven our technology and approach.

The Future

Verbalis intends to utilize the modular architecture created in the course of development of the English-German system to extend into other language pairs. Such extension will be facilitated by the ability to reuse (parts of) both programming code and linguistic resources.

 Verbalis Ltd, Scotland, UK