It’s not perfect, but thanks to improved AI, machine translation is much better and easier. It’s Time to Share Research in Multiple Languages – ScienceDaily
While in high school, Xinyi Liu briefly worked in a lab at Beihang University in Beijing, where Chinese researchers routinely use Google Translate to create the first English drafts of scientific papers. I was surprised to see Translation is a must if a scientist wants to submit to a prestigious journal. Most of the journals are in English.
“It used to be normal for postdocs to use Google Translate to translate everything first and then correct and polish it. said Liu, an up-and-coming junior at the University of California. , Berkeley, specializing in molecular and cell biology. “Literally every word, every term randomly stuck together.”
There must be a better way, she thought.
So last year, when Rebecca Turbin saw a new seminar teaching about breaking down language barriers in science, she signed up.
The class, which will be held for the third time at UC Berkeley in the spring of 2023, was a pilot balloon for Turbine, an assistant professor of integrative biology. With renewed campus-wide interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion, she and a working group within her department believe that this class will help her UC Berkeley address long-standing problems in science. thought it might help. I am not a native English speaker.
International students and scientists are not the only ones at a disadvantage when science is primarily communicated in English. So do many American-born students. In the fall of 2020, about 40% of freshmen entering UC Berkeley are first-generation undergraduates, and in the 10-campus UC system, 39% of first-generation students speak a language other than English. I grew up with it as my first language.
“A lot of our students from California grew up translating for their parents,” Turbin said. “Translation has been part of their lives since childhood.”
For Turbin, the class Breaking Language Barriers in Evolution and Ecology was “an opportunity to both teach translation literacy skills to students and to encourage them to be activists in this area of structural change. have seen very positive reactions to this kind of activism from students after taking the course, as they all seem to agree that addressing the language barrier is very important. I got it.”
The class will enable Tarvin, several UC Berkeley graduate students, and collaborators from Canada, Israel, and Hungary to use the tools that people around the world use to make scientific papers accessible to non-English speakers. I wrote a scientific paper evaluating a new machine translation tool that can The paper was published in the journal online this month bioscienceTranslations into the co-author’s languages Spanish, French, Portuguese and Hungarian are also available online.
“The idea here is that we’re trying to give people the tools and motivation to translate their own scientific work,” Turbine said. And there are many more benefits from incorporating multilingual approaches at all stages of science, for example, publishing in multiple languages benefits society for better science communication. will bring.”
“Language can be both a great tool and a barrier to bring people together,” says Emma, lead author of the paper and a UC Berkeley graduate student in environmental science, policy and management. Steigerwald emphasized “It is this barrier that can be overcome with this new technology. We will show you how you can make a difference by adopting this new technology.”
Towards a multilingual scientific network
Until recently, computer translation was a joke. People shared amusing examples of mistranslations that seemed to imply disrespect for languages other than English and other cultures.
However, machine learning, or artificial intelligence, has dramatically improved the accuracy of translations, and travelers are using Internet services such as Google Translate to communicate with people in the countries they visit.
But for texts with a lot of jargon (many of which are scientific, but also from many other academic disciplines), Google Translate falls woefully inadequate.
“Translation quality is not for journals,” says Ixchel Gonzalez Ramirez, one of the course’s graduate student mentors. “Often you have to pay professional translators to translate your work, which is very expensive.”
The new paper highlights some of the many services that can translate English scientific papers into other languages. Most of them are free. Besides the well-known Google Translate platform, we use neural networks to translate English to Chinese, Japanese, Romance languages or German and vice versa, many times more than our competitors. Includes DeepL, which claims to be accurate. Baidu Translate: A service by Chinese internet company Baidu, initially focused on translation between English and Chinese. Naver Pagago, a multilingual translator created by a Korean company. Yandex.Translate uses statistical machine translation and is primarily focused on Russian and English.
“Translation is becoming more and more within the reach of everyone. Whether you are an expert or not, bilingual or not, with so many technologies available to us today, the ability to translate has been greatly accelerated,” said Steigerwald. “So how can we integrate this into our workflow as scientists, and how will this change the expectations surrounding science communication?”
English is the lingua franca of science
Tarvin’s interest in translation stemmed from one of her graduate students, Valeria Ramírez Castañeda. Valeria Ramírez Castañeda published a paper in 2020 describing the costs incurred by her fellow Colombian doctoral student who wanted to publish her thesis and interact with her colleagues in an English-dominated world. Announced.
As an evolutionary biologist interested in how some animals came to use poisons, Tarvin decided to focus her new seminar on translating papers in the fields of evolution and ecology. . She especially sought out students like Liu and mentors like her Gonzalez Ramirez who was bilingual or multilingual.
“Everyone in the class had some sort of familial connection with the language,” Turbin said.
Turbin also asked Mailey-Louise McLaughlin, professor of French and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and expert in journalism and literary translation, how experts approach translation and how translation makes sense. I asked them to talk in class about how it would affect them.
Back-to-school Ruoming Cui, who took the course in the spring of 2022, chose Baidu to translate the scientific abstract. She soon realized that the use of multiple words to describe long, complex sentences and concepts in English seemed redundant when translated into Chinese.
“Usually we don’t do that in Chinese because every sentence becomes very long and very boring,” she said.
Liu added that many English translations are garbled without considerable polish.
“I’ve heard the saying that your results are great, but if you write a confusing paper for translation, people will get annoyed because they won’t understand what you’re doing.” It has a lot to do with how you verify it and whether you read it, and I think that’s a big barrier in the scientific world.”
Steigerwald, Tarvin, and their co-authors also found that writing scientific papers in plainer English (something non-scientists have long encouraged) benefits both English speakers and non-English speakers. I noticed that.
“If your native language isn’t English and you’re just trying to read an English version of the article, the author’s use of plain language will eliminate ambiguity and make reading easier,” Steigerwald said. says. “But what’s very important is that when you translate that text, it’s much easier for machine learning tools to translate what’s written in plain language. So this future-proofs your writing. If someone wanted to translate it into millions of languages, it would be much easier if it was written that way.”
Obstacles to widespread translation of scientific papers remain, such as where to obtain them and how to deal with copyright. Most journals do not even accept non-English manuscripts, and few explicitly allow joint publication of manuscripts with translations. Tarvin notes that few journals have policies regarding translations, and as a result of common copyright restrictions, many publishers charge exorbitant fees to post translations online after publication. I noticed that.
“It is amazing how many journals do not allow free publication of translations after publication, and how few support platforms that allow only abstracts to be produced in a second or third language. , is very surprising,” Turbine said. “I think the main barrier to this is the web platform. Not just the publishing and copyright rules, but the capabilities of the platform as well.”
At the Breaking Barriers seminar, and now bioscience Turbin and her colleagues want to gradually change the norms of science so that it defaults to translating papers into other languages, especially the languages of the countries where research is conducted and the languages of co-authors. .
And the more translations we have, the more material we have to train our machine translation system to do a better job, and the quality of our scientific translations will gradually improve.
“In my lab, we translate a lot of our research, and now people in Emma’s lab are doing it too,” she said. Sharing attitudes and how they can make a difference in people has inspired a small but growing group of people who are beginning to incorporate translation into their scientific workflows. think.”
additional co-authors of bioscience The paper includes Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda and Débora Brandt, PhD students at the University of California, Berkeley. András Bardi of the Institute of Ecology and Botany at the Ecological Research Center in Bakhlat, Hungary. Postdoctoral fellow Julie Teresa Shapiro at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel. Lynne Bowker, Professor of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Ottawa, Canada, said: