Write for machine translation

Write for machine translation

Machine translation has a bad reputation: there are collections of amusing mistakes made by automatic translators. But there are also good reasons why we need to use machines to translate our words.

Companies which distribute their products around the world need to have instructions written in many languages, and human translators are expensive. Most of the World Wide Web is in English, and people need to be able to read these pages.

We can learn to write in such a way that machines can translate our words. The results will not be perfect, but they will convey our meaning. If we write well enough, we will have to write only once, and we will be understood all over the world.

When we write for translation, there are three possibilities:

  1. To write for translation by human translators. Books have been written on this subject. The translator will understand the text if you write in a clear and simple style.
  2. To write for translation by machines, with help from a human translator. This task requires more care, or the meaning may be lost.
  3. To write for translation by machines alone. This introduces special difficulties. There are words which must not be translated (names, for example) and there are words which the machine is unable to translate.

This site is intended to offer you some assistance when you write for translation by machine. If you have comments or suggestions, write to me here.

Updated 2011-05-09

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