Noami Yamashita and Toru Ishida (Kyoto) Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2006). [pdf]
Abstract: Even though multilingual communities that use machine translation to overcome language barriers are increasing, we still lack a complete understanding of how machine translation affects communication. In this study, eight pairs from three different language communities–China, Korea, and Japan–worked on referential tasks in their shared second language (English) and in their native languages using a machine translation embedded chat system. Drawing upon prior research, we predicted differences in conversational efficiency and content, and in the shortening of referring expressions over trials. Quantitative results combined with interview data show that lexical entrainment was disrupted in machine translation-mediated communication because echoing is disrupted by asymmetries in machine translations. In addition, the process of shortening referring expressions is also disrupted because the translations do not translate the same terms consistently throughout the conversation. To support natural referring behavior in machine translation-mediated communication, we need to resolve asymmetries and inconsistencies caused by machine translations.

Task for experiments: order figures through a chat interface, via a third language (English) and with own lanuage+ MT.
The process of agreeing on a perspective on a referent is known as lexical entrainment [4, 11].

Although machine translation liberates members from language barriers, it also poses hurdles for establishing mutual understanding. As one might expect, translation errors are the main source of inaccuracies that complicate mutual understanding [25]. Climent found that typographical errors are also a big source of translation errors that hinder mutual understanding [7]. Yamashita discovered that members tend to misunderstand translated messages and proposed a method to automatically detect misunderstandings [30].

In machine translation-mediated communication, shortened referring expressions are not necessarily translated correctly; even when referring expressions overlap considerably, machine translation may generate something totally different based on very small changes. Because abbreviation is problematic for machine translation, we expect that participants will identify a figure using identical referring expressions throughout the conversation.

… translations between two different languages are not transitive: translation from language A to B and back to A does not yield the original expression. The intransitive nature of machine translations results from its development process; translation from language A to B is built independently of translation from language B to A. In such conversations, the addressee cannot echo the speaker’s expression as a way of accepting it, illustrating that they are referring to the same thing.

We also found that in their second trial, speakers using machine translation preferred to narrow expressions rather than simplify them. …We infer that “narrowing” is observed more frequently in machine translation-mediated communication because distinctive terms such as “kimono” have few alternatives in translation, and thus, participants feel safe using them to match the figures.

Moreover, participants avoided focusing on the incomprehensible part of messages to discover what was wrong. Since translations are not transitive, it appears that they cannot efficiently solve the problem. Speakers have little choice but to offer more information and proceed with the task.

Consistent with quantitative results, speakers tended to describe the figures more frequently in machine translation than in English.

It seems that participants can minimize mutual effort in collaboration by offering more and more information until their partner confirms understanding.

Since such an unwieldy conversational style would not be useful in general conversation, there is a need to support natural referential behavior in machine translation-mediated communication. For example, support that creates correspondences among references (or keywords) between the two languages may help. Also, support that creates correspondences among referring expressions before and after shortening may help.


Federico Gaspari (F.Gaspari @ from University of Manchester, United Kingdom:

• Social impact of MT very visible on the Internet

• Only small minority of language supported

• Online MT has established a niche for itself

• Online MT promotes social interchange

• Users prepared to accept low-quality output

• Human translation simply not an option

Tsunami webpage to help find/identify victims in English translated into many languages with online MT systems such as Google and Altavista: and

Michael McCord (mcmccord @ from IBM Research:
Two social impact projects, sponsored by IBM Corporate Community Relations (CCR) and IBM Research:

1. ¡Tradúcelo Ahora!(Translate it Now): English↔Spanish MT for Latinos.
Server-based: Users need not install anything.
Web page translation. Uses enhancement of IBM product WebSphere Translation Server (WTS).
Email translation. Using any email client, and without installing any software, a user simply writes an email to anyone and copies a certain email account on our server. The email gets translated and sent to the user’s recipients and the user. Handles either Es or En source, and these can be mixed (does language ID).
Smart cross-lingual web search.
Work done by Nelson Correa and Esmé Manandise, M. McCord

To address the Hispanic Digital Divide, CCR has been working in partnership with nearly three dozen major agencies serving the Latino community since 2004.
These agencies receive grants from CCR, use the TA software, and give us feedback for improving the En-Es MT.
This year we are continuing that work, and also working with K-12 schools – doing web page translation, and translation for email between (mainly) Spanish-speaking parents and English-speaking school staff.

A study by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute concluded that the TA project has benefited the participant organizations and their constituents in significant ways:
It simplified community outreach specialists’ efforts to conduct educational sessions on medical disorders for Spanish-speaking clients;
It enabled staff to more easily research online information about public services, jobs, clinical and legal issues, and translate the web pages for their clients;
It enriched English as a Second Language (ESL) program educational resources; It augmented and improved Spanish literacy courses;
It made it easier for clients to find employment at popular job search web sites, helped them apply for jobs online, and write resumes and cover letters;
It provided GED and ESL students a significant new tool for conducting research, reading the news, viewing transcripts, etc., and
It provided an additional teaching resource to enhance basic computer-training courses.

2. Cooperation with Meadan on English
Chat/blog system to foster Western-Islamic dialog

CCR and other parts of IBM are cooperating with the Meadan organization (Ed Bice et al.) to build this system. IBM is contributing mainly certain technical pieces: Arabic↔English MT. Salim Roukos’ group. Arabic Slot Grammar parser. McCord, Cavalli-Sforza. Uses Buckwalter’s BAMA for morphology. Will be used to: improve Ar→En MT + analyze Arabic text entries directly to make them into a searchable database (also ESG used for English entries). Parts of networking platform (IBM group in England).

Is MT a necessity for social justice in a multi-ethnic society?
Certainly translation is. MT should help when there aren’t enough human translators, and the MT is good enough.

Rami B. Safadi (safadi @ from Sakhr Software USA. Social Impact of Translation Via SMS:

User sents message to be translated dialing a number (#2020), MT Server translates message and sents it back.

Motivation: For Sakhr Software: Revenues per message translated + Develop a dialect preprocessor. For Mobile phone companies: Value added services to retain customers + Free service.

English to Arabic (80%)
Over 50% Mobile advertisements & subscriptions
About 25% Dictionary, expressions, terminologies and short phrases
About 20% Chatting
About 5% Notifications for Bank accounts, Credit Cards, Prepaid cards….

Arabic to English (20%)
Over 70% Chatting
30% Dictionary, expressions, terminologies and short phrases

Available in 11 countries
Over 10,000 messages per day

Win Laptops, Mp3 players & more!.. Join the Al Shamil Quiz Competition from 3 – 9 August; 5pm – 9pm at the Mall of the Emirates. (School Students only)
Sorry the transferred failed. You do not have sufficient credit.
Tell me ur coming or no i have duty 7 am

… when I took a look at Ed Bice’s slides for the AMTA Social Impact of MT Panel. Ed Bice is the founder of Meadan (ebice @, among many other things (his Pop web page).

hybrid distributed natural language translation (hdnlt) ‘web 2.0’ approach
• Language translation as a distributed service
• People/machines collaborate to provide service
• Volunteer translators as a social network
• Harness collective intelligence – value arises from small, shared
• Reputation driven – translator reputations adjusted by feedback
and performance
• Abstractions ease adding devices and services

In 2004, less than 1% of the 6800 languages of the world profits from a high level of computerization, including a broad range of services going from text processing to machine translation. This thesis, which focuses on the other languages – the pi-languages – aims at proposing solutions to cure their digital underdevelopment. In a first part, intended to show the complexity of the problem, we present the languages’ diversity, the technologies used, as well as the approaches of the various actors: linguistic populations, software publishers, the United Nations, States… A technique for measuring the computerization degree of a language – the sigma-index – is proposed, as well as several optimization methods. The second part deals with the computerization of the Laotian language and concretely presents the results obtained for this language by applying the methods described previously. The described achievements contributed to improve the sigma-index of the Laotian language by approximately 4 points, this index being currently evaluated with 8.7/20. In the third part, we show that an approach by groups of languages can reduce the computerization costs thanks to the use of a modular architecture associating existing general software and specific complements. For the most language-related parts, complementary generic lingware tools give the populations the possibility to computerize their languages by themselves. We validated this method by applying it to the syllabic segmentation of Southeast Asian languages with unsegmented writings, such as Burmese, Khmer, Laotian and Siamese (Thai).

By Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland


Incumbent To Watch: Yahoo!
Hoping to dominate social media, it’s gobbling up promising startups (, Flickr, Webjay) and experimenting with social search (My Web 2.0) that ranks results based on shared bookmarks and tags.


Incumbent To Watch: Google
Already the ultimate Web filter through general search as well as blog, news, shopping, and now video search, it’s encouraging mashups of Google Maps and search results, and offers a free RSS reader.


For nearly a century, the phone, and voice as we know it, has existed largely in the confines of a thin copper wire. But now service providers can convert voice calls into tiny Internet packets and let them loose on fast connections, thus mimicking the traditional voice experience without spending hundreds of millions on infrastructure. All you need are powerful–but cheap–computers running specialized software. The Next Net will be the new phone, creating fertile ground for new businesses.

Incumbent To Watch: eBay (Skype)
The pioneer in the field and still the front-runner, Skype brings together free calling, IM, and video calling over the Web; eBay will use it to create deeper connections between buyers and sellers. [And I’d say Google Talk is following closely…]


It’s been a long time — all the way back to the dawn of desktop computing in the early 1980s — since software coders have had as much fun as they’re having right now. But today, browser-based applications are where the action is. A killer app no longer requires hundreds of drones slaving away on millions of lines of code. Three or four engineers and a steady supply of Red Bull is all it takes to rapidly turn a midnight brainstorm into a website so hot it melts the servers. What has changed is the way today’s Web-based apps can run almost as seamlessly as programs used on the desktop, with embedded audio, video, and drag-and-drop ease of use. Company: 37Signals (Chicago)
What it is: Online project management
Next Net bona fides: Its Basecamp app, elegant and inexpensive, enables the creation, sharing, and tracking of to-do lists, files, performance milestones, and other key project metrics; related app Backpack, recently released, is a powerful online organizer for individuals.
Company: Writely (Portola Valley, CA)
What it is: Online word processing
Next Net bona fides: It enables online creation of documents, opens them to collaboration by anyone anywhere, and simplifies publishing the end result on a website as a blog entry.


A growing number of companies are either offering themselves as Web-based platforms on which other software and businesses can be built or developing basic tools that make some of the defining hallmarks of the Next Net possible.

Incumbent To Watch: Amazon
It’s becoming a major Web platform by opening up its software protocols and encouraging anyone to use its catalog and other data; its Alexa Web crawler, which indexes the Net, can be used as the basis for other search engines, and its Mechanical Turk site solicits humans across cyberspace to do things that computers still can’t do well, such as identify images or transcribe podcasts.