Friday, June 11, 2010

Translate Indonesia - Inggris

Being a student majoring Linguistic and Literature, doing an Indonesia - Inggris translation is not a new thing to me. Bu even though I've been translating for years, it's never easy to translate Indonesia - Inggris. I do feel easier to translate Inggris - Indonesia because Indonesia is my mother language, but to do the opposite, it's another story.

Most people think that if you understand foreign language, then you can easily translate your language into the foreign language. It's not true because translation is not that simple. I'll try to explain it in two points.

1. Translating from foreign language to mother language is easier. For example, translating from Inggris to Indonesia is easy, because I speak Indonesia everyday. I know how to say any sentence, any thought, anything in Indonesia. When I translate Inggris - Indonesia, I get to the core of the sentence I need to translate. I'm looking for the 'meaning' of the whole sentence, seeing the thought inside it. Then I find out how to say the same 'meaning' in Indonesia.

2. Transating from mother language to foreign language is harder. For example, translating from Indonesia to Inggris is harder because I don't speak Inggris everyday with native Inggris speaker. The difficult part is to find out how Inggris speaker will say the 'meaning' in Inggris. At this point, we'll met something called 'Grammar' and 'Syntax". They are the rule of building a sentence. Then we will met something named 'Tenses'. They are the time marker. After that, we'll get along with 'Regular Verb' and 'Irregular Verb', 'Personal Pronoun', and it all changed the verb of the sentence. See, it's complicated.

Now, when technology advances to the 'point of no limit', translation work can be done by a software, a program, a machine. But is it true? A sentence always have a situation behind it. That's what called 'Pragmatic'. Human can understand the 'Pragmatic logic' based on the situation when the sentence created. But even a human will misunderstood the meaning of sentence when he's not aware of the situation where the sentence made. So, if human can misunderstood the logic of a sentence, how come a machine not?

It doesn't mean that a machine could not translate at all. The result of translating a word using translator software is quite good, if not perfect. This is because the translator only needs to look for the matched word in it's database.

The problem kicks in when translating a sentence using translator. Translator software can't understand the situation behind the sentence. A word in the sentence could have multiple meaning, depends on the situation behind it. Some software use multiple translation results with all the possible meaning of the word. This is a quite good solution, but it will create bigger problem when translating a business document or paragraph-long documents. The multiple meaning forces you to edit the translated text by choosing the right match for the word and removing the others. This will made the translation work goes harder and consumes time.