Can Machine Translation aid the preservation of the Irish language?

Can Machine Translation aid the preservation of the Irish language?

In the latest edition of Council Journal, Iconic CEO John Tinsley explored the role Machine Translation may play in the preservation of the Irish Language. Check out an extract from John’s article below!

EU Ireland

When reading a news article, you don’t know, or necessarily care, if it was written in Chinese and then translated in English, you just care that it’s in a language you can read. Translation is one of those things that is a lot more pervasive than you’d think, only it mainly happens behind the scenes, and only makes the headlines when something goes wrong!

Europe is obviously a melting pot when it comes to the translation industry because of the number of languages spoken across the continent. What you might be surprised to learn is that – within Ireland and beyond – there is a significant demand for translation into the Irish language.

Translating Irish in Ireland

Irish (Gaelic) has Constitutional recognition as the national and first official language of the country. English is also an official language, making Ireland a bilingual country from an administrative perspective. According to the Official Languages Act 2003, all state companies are obliged to have bilingual signage and stationary, and have Irish language options on their websites.

Irish in Europe

Irish has been recognised as one of 24 official working languages of the European Union since 2007. Until January this year, there was a derogation placed on that status meaning that not all EU institutions are obliged to translate all documentation into Irish.

However, that derogation has been lifted with a goal of having Irish fully integrated no later than 2022. This means that there is now a massive backlog of official documents that need to be translated into Irish, at a cost of roughly €3.5 million per year to the Irish Government.

In Europe, the ongoing translation burden falls on the EU who has earmarked €3.7 million in their 2018 budget and are aiming to recruit 26 Irish translators in Brussels.

The elephant in the room though – for both the Irish and European case – is where are all of these translators going to come from?

Translator Shortage

Simply put, there aren’t enough Irish translators to get through all of this work in a reasonable amount of time. The pool of professional translators in Ireland is relatively small, numbering in the low hundreds, with many of them not working as translators on a full-time basis. The EU, even with its attractive salaries is struggling to recruit translators.

Just over 9 months after advertising the aforementioned 26 vacancies in Brussels, only 3 have been filled. There’s a huge supply and demand issue that can only be resolved by one means: technology.

Technology to the Rescue

MT can be used to speed up the translation process and save costs when it comes to publishing information and documentation bilingually in Ireland. It is can be used in two ways.

1. The first, and most common use is for gist translation; a quick rough translation to understand the basic premise of something.

2. The second, and most important use in this particular case is as a productivity tool. MT technology can provide a draft translation of an English document in Irish, which the translators can post-edit, or revise, where necessary, to bring it up to the required standard. This can allow translators to get through double the content in the same space of time.

Translation technology is not only crucial to meet the translation demands of today, it’s also critical for language preservation into the future. This is why it has been prioritised by the Government in its “20 year strategy for the Irish language, 2010-2030”.

The future of the Irish language might not be so clear in 2017, but if we embrace the latest technological advances, there’s a much better chance that the future will be bright.

You can read the complete article on how Machine Translation can aid the conservation of the Irish Language here on the Council Journal’s website. 

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About Iconic Translation Machines

Iconic Translation Machines is a leading machine translation software and solutions provider who specialise in custom solutions tailored with subject matter expertise for specific industry sectors including eDiscovery, legal, life sciences, and financial services. Iconic is the MT partner of choice for some of the world’s largest translation companies, information providers, and government and enterprise organisations, helping them to translate more content, more accurately and in less time, resulting in significant cost savings and increased revenue. Iconic is based in Dublin, Ireland.

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