Microsoft Translator Team Blog

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  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Translate This and Translate My Page Functionality with Windows Live Translator

    • 15 Comments

    Every now and then I look at visitor logs on the various personal and professional sites/blogs that I administer. It makes for a fascinating experience to see the many places worldwide that visitors come from. I have often wondered about non English speakers and how I could make my writing more accessible to them. While some professional and company web sites have translated versions available, in many user forums and communities across the web there have been requests for a translated version of the pages/posts. Today, on many sites, I have to copy the text on the site, paste it into a translator and look at the translation. It is cumbersome and not very seamless in an otherwise smooth navigation experience.

    I am very pleased to say Windows Live Translator solved this problem with the latest feature addition that rolled out this week. Now on the Live Translator home page you will find a new link  "Add the web page Translator to your site". By clicking on this link you go to a page that offers snippets of code that can be added to individual web pages for which you wish to offer translations.

    The code generator will create the appropriate widget depending on the source language of your site. Refer to the Live Translator introduction post where Andrea listed the language pairs that we currently support.

    So here is what you do to have a link on your web page to translate it:

    Step 1: Click on the Add the web page Translator to your site link

    Step 2: Select the language your web page is written in (source language)

    Widget

    For example: Since all the articles on my blog are in English, I choose English as the source language

    Step 3: The code that you need to copy and paste into your web page's HTML is generated in the box

    For example: Since I chose English, the code that is generated looks like this

    <script type="text/javascript" src=http://translator.live.com/TranslatePageLink.aspx?pl=en></script>

    Step 4: Copy that code and paste it into the page that should offer translation.

    For example: On my blog say I want the blog post I wrote about Live Translator to be translated, I go into the blog editor and paste it like so:

     PasteIntoHTML

    If the blog or web page uses templates, one could also paste the code into a template - thereby providing the Translate This Page widget on all pages

    Step 5: Enjoy an expanded (and hopefully more appreciative) audience!

    The end result on my blog looks like this in the case of a single post translation:

     Single Page Translate

    The end result looks like this if I put it in the template (this allows for translation of every post):

    SidebarTranslateWidget

    For the more technically minded here is some more information on the parameters that the Live Translator accepts:

    http://www.windowslivetranslator.com/BV.aspx?lp=en_fr&a=http://viks.org

    where lp is the language pair (such as en_fr for english to french) for source and target languages. a is the URL you want translated. 

    The Windows Live focused community site ViaWindowsLive is making creative use of the Live Translator to make their site available in multiple languages (look on the left bottom of the page). I would love to check out how you might be utilize this new feature. Feel free to post a link to your site in the comments.

    -Vikram

    Edit: Updating the parameters link

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    IE8 Translation Activity

    • 8 Comments

    Our friends over in the Internet Explorer building recently released a developer preview version of IE8.

    MSIE8

    There are a lot of interesting features in IE8 developer beta 1, ranging from improved standards compatibility to improving security through elegant tweaks to the address bar. Web slices, improved Favorites bar and the developer toolbar are some other welcome additions to the feature set.

    The Activities feature in IE8 is a great way for users to access various web services in a single click. We are very excited to deliver translations through the Translation activity for IE8. If you don't already have it available through the activities menu you can get it (along with other great activities) from here.

    IE8ActivityCapture

    For a detailed review on the Translation activity, and to hear it in "non product manager speak", you can check out Helvecio's blog post here. You can download the developer preview IE8 from here. More information on newer releases and other features is available at the IE team blog.

    We look forward to hearing about your experiences with the Translation activity for IE8.

    Happy Translating!

    Vikram

    Vikram works on Incubation Strategy for Microsoft Research Machine Translation team
  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Announcing the Microsoft Translator Hub for commercial use – a comprehensive solution for custom translation quality

    • 1 Comments

    Delivering free, easy-to-use tools to enable you and your community to collaboratively customize translations based on your content and scenarios.

    As machine translation researchers, we are well aware of the challenges in applying brute force computing power to solve translation problems. We know that no matter how much processing power you throw at translation, it is still a stretch to get an error-free, contextually accurate translation every time. As a partner-focused translation services team, we have been on the forefront of delivering better ways to tailor translations to fit the specific content being translated. Over two years ago, we took a step in the direction of helping users customize translations being delivered through our Microsoft Translator Collaborative Translation Framework. As an integral part of the Microsoft Translator API, these technologies allowed users to edit and override the machine generated translations after they were delivered, and made them available for reuse via the API.

    Today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, we are announcing the commercial availability of the Microsoft Translator Hub, an innovative tool that gives partners and communities unprecedented control over how the translation engine translates their content -- before the translations are delivered. Using the Hub, users can improve and optimize the translation quality for a specific area of terminology and style.

    The Translator Hub is a free extension of the popular Microsoft Translator service, and enables businesses to combine existing translated documents with the power of Microsoft Translator’s big data backend to easily build a custom translation system, whose quality is controlled by the business. Custom systems built and deployed are seamlessly accessible via the standard Microsoft Translator API, and can be built into any scenario or workflow.

    clip_image002

    While the technology behind the translation and customization services is very powerful, our goal was to deliver the Hub as a simple to use private web portal that makes it easy for users to get started quickly. We achieved this by enabling users to build custom machine translation systems in four simple steps.

    clip_image003

    The users of the Hub can upload parallel (same document in two languages) and monolingual (single language) documents in a variety of formats, and build custom translation models in a private workspace using Microsoft Translator’s machine learning based training systems. The Hub provides methods and a simple user interface for collaborating and improving the translation system with reviewers, before deploying to the Microsoft Translator runtime infrastructure. The owner of the customized system can keep the system private, share it with other individuals, companies, or make it available publicly.

    In addition the same collaborative translation functionality is integrated into the Microsoft Translator API enabling continuous improvement of the customized translation system through ongoing community engagement and feedback.

    Learn more about this great tool on the Microsoft Translator web site, where you can also see how some of our early partners, like Lionbridge and PLYmedia, have leveraged the Translator Hub to power innovative business solutions and scenarios. You can also request an invite to the Hub directly from the Translator Hub portal.

    We are confident that this technology will change the conversation about the quality of machine translation. Whether you are looking to stretch your localization budget, communicate with your global customers, or better understand your increasingly multilingual business data, Microsoft Translator Hub and the Translator API are worth considering as part of your workflow. By bringing together your pre-existing translated data with Microsoft’s big data translation models, the Hub opens up new cross-language possibilities for your business.

    We look forward to working with you. If you are attending WPC 2012, do attend the Microsoft Translator session (2 PM, Wednesday July 11) or visit our innovation theatre presentations in the Solutions Innovation Center to learn more (search for “microsoft translator”).

    - Vikram Dendi
    Director, Product Management
    Microsoft/Bing Translator

    In partnership with Microsoft Research Connections, we also had the privilege of showcasing another aspect of the Microsoft Translator Hub in helping preserve and revitalize languages online in February 2012. Members of the Hmong community were among the first users of the Translator Hub and were able to build a machine translation system for the Hmong Daw language from scratch. The community chose to make this language available broadly via the public translation API and Bing Translator on International Mother Language Day, helping the worldwide Hmong community benefit from the great work of these passionate volunteers. Many other communities from around the world are now using the Translator Hub to build translation systems for their languages. You can watch some of these inspiring stories here and learn more about the research behind the Microsoft Translator Hub on the Inside Microsoft Research blog.

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    A metal can (can’t it?): Guest Blog

    • 10 Comments

    Lee Schwartz is a Computational Linguist on the Microsoft Translator team.  Today’s guest blog is about getting lost in (machine) translation…

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Recently, a user seemed upset with the translation he received for a metal paint can.  No wonder.  When he translated this into Spanish, he got un metal pintura puede, which means a metal paint is able to.  And, what is that supposed to mean?  But, then again, what is "meaning" to a machine translation system anyway?  Does anything mean anything?  Or, is the computer just seeing words in combination in one language and corresponding words in another language?  And is it assuming that because one sequence is used in the source language when another is used in the target, one is the translation of another?  Even if the machine translation program is just seeing words in combination, wouldn't it have seen paint can before and know that the can in this context is some kind of container?   Then, again, can you be sure that the computer behind the MT program knows anything about paint cans, or has seen those two words in combination?  Why do you think it would have?  But, giving it the benefit of the doubt, and assuming it knows all about paint cans, or at least has seen the string paint can a lot, how is it supposed to know how to translate a metal paint can?   Maybe the computer has seen something like The metal film on one side of the plate...  may be obtained by ...spraying a metal paint or ....  

    Ah ha!  So there really are metal paints.  And, if there are metal paints, why can't a metal paint can be the answer to a metal paint can, can't it?  Well, it is just not likely that when you have the words paint and can in sequence, that can means be able to.  But then again it is just not likely that can means anything but be able to.  I guess we can say things and think things that are just not likely.  I can easily understand what A metal paint can can, can't it? means.  The computer might just think that I inadvertently typed can twice.  Certainly, if it learns from real data, say from the Web, it will see can can a lot.  Maybe that is why it won't translate He did the can can correctly.  But really, what is English doing with so many types of cans anyway?  We can even can worms, but we won’t open that one now.   

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Introducing: Windows Live Translator Beta

    • 14 Comments

    There has been some great coverage recently on the beta release of our new online translation service. In this post I would like to provide you with information regarding Microsoft’s entry into the free online machine translation field – straight from the horse’s mouth, figuratively speaking.

    The URL of the translation home page is http://www.microsofttranslator.com, where you can issue requests for text and web page translations:image

    Note that a check box option labeled Computer-related content allows you to get better-adapted translations for (computer-) technical text, provided by Microsoft Research’s own statistical machine translation engine. This service is available for the following language pairs:

     

    English - Chinese Simplified

    English - Chinese Traditional

    English - French

    English - German

    English - Italian

    English - Japanese

    English - Portuguese

    English - Spanish

    Non-technical translations and additional language pairs are currently provided by the latest version of Systran. The additional language pairs available are:

    Arabic - English

    Chinese Simplified - English

    Chinese Traditional - English

    Dutch - English

    English - Arabic

    English - Dutch

    English - Korean

    French - English

    French - German

    German - English

    German - French

    Italian - English

    Japanese - English

    Korean - English

    Portuguese - English

    Russian - English

    Spanish - English

    Our innovative approach to web page translation includes a user interface we refer to as the Bilingual Viewer. It offers 4 types of bilingual views from which users may choose depending on their preference or screen size. The side-by-side and top/bottom views offer synchronized scrolling, highlighting, and navigation (and yes, we still have some wrinkles to iron out there). In the two single language views, you can hover your mouse pointer over a sentence in one language and the corresponding passage in the other language is automatically displayed nearby for ease of reference. Finally, we render the translated text progressively on a web page in order to make it more quickly available for the user to read, while other page elements are still being translated in the background.

    Side-by-side view:

    image

    Top/Bottom view:

    image

    Original with hover translation view:

    image

    Translation with hover original view:

    image

    Live Search will soon be exposing “Translate this page” links on the results page for search results which are in a language that is different from the user’s system language (provided that the required language pair is available from our service).  When you click on a “Translate this page” link, the web page will be opened in the Bilingual Viewer (in side-by-side view or the view you selected during your last viewing session).

    Translation Quality

    Language translation is extremely difficult, as the meaning of words and phrases often depends on the context and specialized knowledge of the domain area or culture. Sentence structures and grammatical rules vary significantly between two languages, adding to the complexity of the translation challenge. Currently, it still requires human skills to translate sentences without errors. The quality of today's most advanced translation software is well below the accuracy and fluency of a professional translator, and many sentences are simply not understandable. Researchers are continuously working on improvements, but it may be many years before high quality translation can be consistently offered by a computer. For this reason, we display both the original text and its translation, anticipating that you will find it easier to understand the translation, comparing it with the original content if needed.
    Some of our translation results (usually for computer-related content) are based on training our translation system on large amounts of bilingual text. The more bilingual or multilingual text we can train our system on, the better our translation quality will become. If you have large amounts of translated text in any subject domain, which you would be willing to share with us, please click here to let us know.

    Please refer to our FAQ section for more answers to questions that have reached us, and please do make use of the option to send us Feedback. We have released our first version of this translation service as a Beta, so we can listen to and learn from you how to best meet your needs. Expect to see continuous improvements to the Windows Live Translator Beta.

    - Andrea

    Andrea Jessee is a Senior Program Manager with Microsoft Research Machine Translation Group
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