How Well Can You Speak English?
NPR, National Public Radio, wrote an article about this test, including one of the test questions with an answer key. The comments below the post, of which there are nearly 200, are a great read. No one, apparently, enjoys taking multiple choice language tests.
Can You Standardize-Test the English Language?
Or any language for that matter? Many commenters on the NPR post felt that standardized tests of language were an abomination. We’d like to concur: In fact, the difficulty in testing language on a standardized, multiple choice test may have something in common with another thorn in the side of the translator: machine translation.
Can You Reduce Language to an Algorithm?
Google and other major players are trying. And, you know, we applaud their efforts. At the same time, the harder they try, and the more money they devote to research and development into AI, the more we slowly shake our heads and wait for the accolades.
Okay. That’s a bit strong. But what we end up noticing from the most sophisticated machine translation software is a bit like what we notice from the best in standardized testing of language: What makes us human is utterly, perfectly imperfectly unable to be reduced to a mathematical formula.
The arguments in the comments section of the NPR article touch on this feeling that I think many of us are aware of: there is a human element to language that leaves open the possibility of more than one answer. Or, indeed, the possibility of an entirely different answer. That ambiguity, that subjectivity, that imprecision, is exactly what draws us in, what keeps us loving translation and enjoying our work with translators. At the end of the day, it’s the humanity of the language that helps remind us why we do what we do.
We Love What We Do
As always, we want to remind you that not only do we love what we do, but we enjoy helping you get what you need in your translation. Sometimes, quite honestly, all you need is a basic machine translation to give you a vague idea of the document you need translated. That’s fine. Other times, precision and accuracy are tantamount. Let us give you a free quote today. We’d love to help.