Neural Machine Translation: What it is and How it Can Help You

December 5, 2019 June 29th, 2023 No Comments

Neural Machine Translation

Neural machine translation is a relatively new technology used to transcribe text from a source language into a target language. As a leading translation company, Geneva Worldwide has proprietary neural machine translation (NMT) technology to help businesses in a number of industries, including international business, medical, and legal. While this technology is a newer form of machine-generated translation, NMT shows promise for a number of our clients needing professional translation services.

Here’s why.

The Basics on NMT Technology

In the past, when machines were used to produce direct translations for a translation company, the flexibility and subtle nuances of human language were lost. Many times, these translations were too literal and lacked the necessary background knowledge to produce translations that accurately reflected what was written in the source language. Before NMT, machines used statistical models for document translation services, operated by rigid sets of rules that didn’t accommodate the flexibility and figurative nature of language. Stephanie Mlot of PC Magazine succinctly describes that NMT “considers the entire input sentence as a unit—like you would comprehend a whole image rather than its individual pixels—taking into account the nuances of speech and meaning.”

NMT, fortunately, shows promise for countering the rigidity and literalism of early machine technology. One way that statistical machine translation (SMT) falls short is due to the fact that SMT focuses on parts of text, translating each word and sentence based on statistical probabilities for meaning—ultimately losing the broader meaning by not examining the text as a whole.

According to research conducted at Cornell University, researchers state that “the traditional phrase-based translation system which consists of many small sub-components that are tuned separately, neural machine translation attempts to build and train a single, large neural network that reads a sentence and outputs a correct translation.” This concept helps explain why NMT produces more accurate translations by reflecting the need for machine translation that works with the flexibility of language and the translation text’s broader meaning.

Developing NMT is a massive undertaking. First, NMT systems are “trained” by downloading droves of text translated by humans, many times from various types of industries. Human-translated texts used to train the NMT might be sourced from legal opinions and medical journal entries. Then, artificial intelligence is built so that the NMT can develop neural networks, which decode language similarly to the way the human brain works. NMT “learns” to translate from copious examples rather than relying on rigid rules used to directly translate words and phrases.

NMT technology is incredibly complex. The basic point to understand with this type of machine translation is that NMT seeks to bridge the gap between the way humans understand language with the efficient and highly productive nature of computer technology.

How NMT Helps Businesses

Language barriers affect businesses of all kinds. As the world becomes smaller with technology, businesses encounter difficulty accommodating the needs of an increasingly international consumer base. Hiring a translation company and translators can be expensive, but utilizing technology to perform document translation services is a cost-effective option for increasing understanding and promoting inclusivity.

NMT gives businesses—especially small businesses with limited funds and resources access to translation services that are efficient and cost-effective. For instance, NMT could help produce menus, user manuals, and warning labels as well as translate large documents in a number of languages quickly and more affordably than relying solely on human translators.

From communicating with customers and investors who speak other languages to document translation services for contracts and legal documents, NMT can help businesses in all industries keep up with the pace of the global economy.

As a leading professional translation services provider, Geneva Worldwide offers language support in the form of translation, interpretation and transcription, and has been helping businesses for over 120 years. In addition to NMT, our translation company provides in-person and remote interpretation services along with translation support in hundreds of languages. You can learn more about your services by reading our blog and website or call our NYC-based headquarters to speak to a helpful member of our team.