The TAUS take on Google Translation Center

Google translation center

The post I wrote on the Google Translation Center has been the most-visited page on this blog over the past month. Clearly, Google has struck a nerve in the translation industry — and its service is not even live yet.

The Translation Automation User Society does not appear to be as welcoming as I am of the Google Translation Center. A new essay on its site says:

Private companies will always seek world domination and customer lock-in. As a professional in the translation industry, the Google Translation Centre may help you on the short-term, but you only help Google long-term and you don’t help the world at all. Ultimately we pay the price for putting all translated words and sentences in the possession of a single company.

There is a distinct “evil empire” tone to this essay, which is understandable to a point. Google appears to be entering that evil empire stage of its development. Though I still use the search engine.

And the last I checked, Google’s “terms and services” page for the Translation Center had been taken down. So I can’t really say what Google’s policy will be regarding the translation memory (TM) that it may or may not leverage from this Center.

But it is no coincidence that TAUS is planning to develop a massive database of TMs of its own. I’m sure it wants readers to come away thinking that TAUS is going to be far more open with its TMs than Google will be.

TAUS says that its TM database will be free to the world for the looking up of translations of terms and phrases. But you’ll have to be a member to actually have access to the database (on a reciprocal basis) and membership is not free. I’m confident that this database will be of the highest quality as TAUS has some impressive corporate members, such as Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle (Google does not appear to be a member).

Personally, I’m glad to see both services emerging — as well as services from Asia Online and Language Weaver (which is now offering a Web-based SaaS translation service). We are entering uncharted waters and it’s important to have a mix of large and small players, as well as a nonprofit, to keep everyone on their toes.

Is there a risk to the world if Google owns the world’s largest TM (which it might have already accomplished)?

Perhaps.

TAUS raises important questions. The answers have yet to emerge.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

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