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Thus the idea of controlling the language at the time of the writing emerged. After all, if the document was written FOR the machine translation software, that the terminology to be used was fully compiled, that colloquialism, passive forms, metaphors, similes,... were all given a miss, one should be able to create a machine translation software with a decent output.
Certainly one of the most famous such attempts was Caterpilar's CTE (Catterpillar Technical English). Caterpillar, faced with new regulations on technical documentation in Europe (Their tech manuals had to be translated for product commercialization in EU) and over 8 million words of documentation to translate, undertook the creation of a self-sufficient translation system, including CTE, KANT (a machine translation solution), and a tremendous effort to extract and compile their terminology. The program also included the training of technical writers in CTE.
However, terminology being as it is, machine translations are still quite hazardous. How many different meanings of "valve" exist in mechanics? In plumbing?
"Vanne", "clapet", "soupape", "robinet", "valve",... All these -and more- are valid translations for "valve", in French. How is a machine - a programmer actually - going to differentiate one meaning from the next and choose the appropriate word in the target language (having similar problems).
Nevertheless, Caterpillar project is said to be a rather successful experiment.
All right. I guess that's an introduction enough, and hope you found it useful. Unless you have huge resources and volume of translations, along with complete management back up, a Controlled English/machine translation is not really an option, IMO.
However, implementing a form of Simplified English is quite cost effective, even for small and medium sized companies. This can be done by training technical writers on Simplified English, and compiling the industry specific terminology.
I do not offer training in Simplified English, and I am not a professional "Simplified English Technical Writer" either. My concern is at the translation's end. I can assist you getting your translations done and, depending on the field, help establish the multilingual terminology.
You are welcome to contact me if you are interested to discuss the subject.
© 2003. Sylvain Galibert. All rights reserved.