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On the usefulness of machine translation

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of offering machine translation post-editing. There is just so much to fix when you work this way that it’s not worth it, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, who would find it to difficult to leave a sentence alone that can be understood but leaves much room for improvement.

I don’t, however, belong to the camp who think that machine translation (MT) is never useful. In fact, I challenge anyone to tell me it would not save them time in the following example.

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I’m going to Cannes!

As I was doing the washing up last night, I decided to tune in to France Info. And it was perfect timing: a few minutes later the presenter interviewed Aurel about his film, Josep, which had been selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2020.

The animated film, produced by Les Films d’Ici Méditerranée, tells the story of Josep Bartoli, a Catalan artist who was among the many Republicans who fled north into France to escape the Spanish Civil War. The French government placed the refugees in concentration camps, in awful conditions, in the middle of winter. You can read a full review in English here.

So why was I so excited when this interview came on the radio?

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