Originally published on Kirti Vashee’s blog eMpTy Pages. Lilt is an interactive and adaptive computer-aided translation tool that integrates machine translation, translation memories, and termbases into one interface that learns from translators. Using Lilt is an entirely different experience from post-editing machine translations — an experience that our users love, and one that yields substantial productivity gains without compromising quality. The first step toward using this new kind of tool is to understand how interactive and adaptive machine assistance is different from conventional MT, and how these technologies relate to exciting new developments in neural MT and deep learning. Interactive MT doesn’t just translate each segment once and leave the translator to clean up the mess. Instead, each word that the translator types into the Lilt environment is integrated into a new automatic translation suggestion in real time. While text messaging apps autocomplete words, interactive MT autocompletes whole sentences. Interactive MT actually improves translation quality. In conventional MT post-editing, the computer knows what segment will be translated, but doesn’t know anything about the phrasing decisions that a translator will make. Interactive translations are more accurate because they can observe what the translator has typed so far and update their suggestions based on all available information.
Ever wonder what happens in the process of translation/interpretation “under the hood?” Let’s look at the mode of interpretation first. Cognitive processes that take place in a simultaneous interpreter’s mind and brain are intense and all happening nearly at the same time. Neurons are firing in all directions, igniting different cognitive processing circuitry. The brain is literally “on fire,” as a Russian cognitive scientist puts it. Consecutive interpreting is different from simultaneous from the perspective of the cognitive science, in that the stages of conversion of meaning and reproduction are delayed from the stage of intake and deciphering of the message. That does not, however, make the process easier.