Comptes rendus de lecture

Harold Somers, ed. Computers and Translation: A Translator’s Guide, Philadelphia, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2003, 349 p.[Record]

  • Sabine Lauffer

…more information

  • Sabine Lauffer
    Glendon College, York University

The articles can be grouped as having two main areas of focus. The first section, which includes the first seven chapters, looks at the various tasks a computer might perform, with a strong emphasis on CAT tools. Chapters eight to eighteen form the second section and focus on various aspects of MT. All the articles contain a relevant introduction and many include a historical overview to provide the reader with useful background information. Tables, charts, illustrations and screen captures of computer programs are often included to illustrate the examples provided. The articles are well cross-referenced, when applicable, and often contain information for further research. Reference lists at the end of each article are also very useful. A thorough index at the end of the book helps readers easily locate information within the articles. The first section contains the book’s introduction as well as six logically organized articles on CAT. The second chapter, The translator’s workbench by Harold Somers, is particularly useful in giving an overview of technology in translation and providing an excellent lead into the topics subsequent chapters examine in greater detail. Somers provides a historical sketch and then discusses the current state, limitations, and future outlook of the main areas of computers in translation. He touches upon all major translation tools including word processing, dictation software, desktop publishing, localisation aids, online and electronic lexical resources, term banks, machine translation, and corpus-based resources such as translation memories and aligned parallel texts. Chapter four, titled Terminology tools for translators by Lynne Bowker, is an excellent resource for anyone interested in terminology. Bowker begins by giving a brief history of the use of computer tools in terminology, from the early 1960’s to current day applications. She defines a term record and termbase in the context of human information needs and contrasts these needs with the requirements of a computer that can not understand definitions, contextual examples, or learned usage. Terminology databases must therefore be prepared differently when used by a computer in coordination with other CAT tools. Bowker provides a very useful overview of what she calls the “new generation of terminology-management tools”. Pulling examples from CAT vendors such as Trados and Multicorpora, she outlines the features that one should consider when deciding on a specific program. She concludes the article with an introduction to term extraction tools, a concept that has been gaining popularity in recent years. Much like chapter four, the other articles in this section provide a detailed analysis of a specific CAT tool that was introduced by Somers earlier in the book. In addition to the chapters already mentioned, the remaining articles include information on translation memory systems, localization and corpora. The final chapter of the first section looks back at the tools discussed in the previous six chapters but within the context of “minority” languages. It quickly becomes evident that there is a significant gap in resources available to these languages when compared to languages that hold a more dominant position on the socio-economic scale. The articles that constitute the second section are also thematically arranged starting with system-based descriptions of how MT systems work. The first two articles examine why translation is difficult for computers and the relevance of linguistics to machine translation. Understanding why machines have difficulty translating is essential when deciding whether and how to use MT in a given environment. John Hutchins, who has successfully collaborated with Harold Somers on several occasions, is the author of chapter ten titled Commercial Systems: The state of the art. This article is particularly useful in helping the reader obtain an overview of the MT …