Translating with Scarce Resources

Yaser Al-Onaizan, Ulrich Germann, Ulf Hermjakob, Kevin Knight, Philipp Koehn, Daniel Marcu, and Kenji Yamada, University of Southern California

Current corpus-based machine translation techniques do not work very well when given scarce linguistic resources. To examine the gap between human and machine translators, we created an experiment in which human beings were asked to translate an unknown language into English on the sole basis of a very small bilingual text. Participants performed quite well, and debriefings revealed a number of valuable strategies. We discuss these strategies and apply some of them to a statistical translation system.

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