Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Machine Translation: What does it mean to the working translator & how can we use it to our advantage?

Event Report

Maria Pilar Hoskins MCIL learns how agencies view machine translation – and how to create her own engine – at a recent event

Both the subject matter (Machine Translation) and the format (two lectures separated by lunch) could have made the Translating Division’s workshop in November slightly daunting. However, thanks mostly to the ability of the lecturers and some relevant audience participation, it was a very satisfying and informative day.

Following a brief introduction by Nigel Goffe MCIL outlining the history of Machine Translation (MT), Anna Norek, MT Programme Manager for the translation agency STP, delivered an informative talk on MT from the point of view of language service providers. Agencies are stuck between two approaches: the idealistic, which postulates that savings can be made by using MT to replace linguists, and the realistic, which uses MT to boost productivity in tandem with linguists.

Anna carries out a balancing act between these two options. In general, her view was that there are considerable gains to be had from MT for agencies, translators and clients in terms of productivity and quality. However, such advantages cannot be obtained without effort; MT engines and databases have to be carefully curated and improved, translators have to learn to work with MT and carry out MT post-editing, and clients need to be more receptive to the advantages and limitations. Anna’s final message: “Keep calm and use MT.”

The afternoon session, ‘Setting Up an MT Engine’, was presented by Dr Dragoș Ciobanu, a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. He explained how to build your very own MT engine, meticulously going through each of the groups of components starting with a large Translation Memory, followed by a monolingual target-language corpus and glossary, and finally an empty MT program which can be used to assemble all these parts.

This was a thought-provoking workshop, made accessible by Dragoș’s well-honed presentation skills and ability to offer various options adjusted to different skill sets. Although the prospect of creating your own MT engine might be intimidating for most, participants could also make use of the sources in a more direct and less challenging way.


Nigel Goffe MCIL – MT background
Anna Norek (STP) – MT at LSPs
Dr. Dragoș Ciobanu – Building your own MT engine (external link)


10:00   Registration
10:30   Introduction; some background/history: Nigel Goffe MCIL
11:15   Coffee
11:25   The LSP view: Anna Norek (STP)
12:15   Lunch
13:30   Setting up an MT engine: Dragos Ciobanu
15:30   Questions/panel session
16:00   Close

November 11th, 2016 10:00 AM   to   4:00 PM
106-109 Saffron Hill
London, EC1N 8QS
United Kingdom
Events +
Category Translating Division
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Translating Division