Student project: with free machine translation, is international English better than plain English?

This student project is related to language translation. Possibly, you can do the project with other students.

You probably study languages or translation. You have the following skills:

Project keywords: accuracy, automatic translation, automated translation, computer translation, fluency, global English, international English, language translation, machine translation, MT, online translation, plain English, quality.

Research question

With free machine translation software such as Google Translate, is the translation of international English better than the translation of 'plain English'?

International English is optimized for an international audience. International English is also known as global English, internationalized English, and worldwide English.

According to Plain English Campaign, plain English is "… something that the intended audience can read, understand and act upon the first time they read it. Plain English takes into account design and layout as well as language."

Previous work

In 2008, Kohl published The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation For a Global Market. For an introduction, read 'The Global English Style Guide: a review'.

Kohl gives hundreds of grammatical guidelines for English that help to increase the quality of translation, both by translators, and by computers. Case studies show that for customized machine translation, internationalized text increases the quality of the machine translation.

Some evaluations show that if text is internationalized, usually, the quality of free machine translation is sufficiently good for people to understand a document. One evaluation shows that international English gives better machine translations than standard English. However, only 6 pairs of sentences were evaluated.

In research about the professional translation of plain English, "there was only weak support for the assumption that the use of Plain English in source documents significantly improves the quality of translated documents." (Leena Lujamaa-Reisner, Plain English: An investigation into the possibility of improving the quality of translated documents if the source documents are written in Plain English, Master's dissertation, 2010.

Project summary

Evaluate the machine translation of plain English text and equivalent international English text. Is the machine translation of international English better than the machine translation of plain English?

For the plain English source text, use text that is approved by an organization that sells plain English services. In the UK, three commercial organizations sell an approval service for plain English:

Ideally, use text that comes from a large organization. Possibly, use text that comes from a government organization. TechScribe will make the results public. Therefore, you must get copyright approval from the copyright owner. If necessary, TechScribe can help you to get permission to use the text.

TechScribe can write the equivalent international English text, or you can write the equivalent international English text.

If possible, for each pair of texts, do the following:

Speak to your project adviser to make sure that the project is suitable. If you have questions, or if you want to work on the project, then contact Mike Unwalla.

See also

Student project about English for UK immigrants

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