Monday, 13 July 2009

Polish-English Translators

I have been using Kompas' Polish-English Translator for sometime. It provides excellent results for my purposes, but it is hard work. I decided to try out Techland's xt Professional to see if it was easier to use. Despite remembering it from the past as being roughly equal in quality, my first reaction was very negative. I decided to make a comparison test. The results are available as a PDF document.

The conclusions were:
The test was designed to found out which of the two programs was best for producing good quality English translations by someone who knows English and relatively little Polish. Judgements are inevitably personal and there may be some bias towards the Kompas product based on familiarity and satisfaction with it. I have tried to balance judgement to take account of this. However, it must still be concluded that Kompas Polish English Translator 4 is clearly superior to Techland's English Translator xt Professional.

Kompas provides an effective working framework for producing quality translations, which is completely absent in Techland. Only Kompas provides the easy ability to edit a full translation within a window in a way that is familiar to any word processor user. It gives easy access to automatically generated word options in the same way as a spell checker, whilst providing many other translation tools.

Statistical comparison of the two suggests that Kompas has better automatic translation, although the need to subsequently edit both versions may reduce the impact of this. Weird translations abound in both, but Techland had numerically more failures and provided two translations that were misleadingly wrong, both of which resulted in an incorrect final translation. Problematical translations are far more easily identified and corrected in Kompas. The ability to turn off word re-ordering in Kompas is a major advantage in analysing the text as changing word and sentence order is as often detrimental as beneficial.

Integration into Open Office for Techland remains an interesting feature, but the low quality of the translation makes it little more than a novelty feature. There may be other features of Techland's translator that are superior that have not been used or appreciated in this assessment. It can, for instance, be quickly noticed that Techland is much simpler and is probably easier to use by someone who is less able to assess the quality of the output eg a Polish speaker with limited English. Kompas, on the other hand, may be a product for those who accept that a lot of work is required.

Price is inevitably a feature of product value, with Kompas being significantly cheaper in addition.

A second comparison showed:
Positive to Techland was further evidence of its better grammar handling when making automatic word substitution. (However, this would not have made any difference if Kompas' full editing capability had been used. NB It was not used to make the comparison as Techland does not have this capability.) On the other hand, Techland's re-ordering of words again seriously distorted the meanings, resulting in incorrect translation. Kompas' dictionary - both in automatic translation and manual checking of words - was also found to be superior, especially (but not only) in its inclusion of a much wider range of phrases.

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