METM15 presentation

Controlled natural languages for translators and editors

Jennifer Gray, Malaga, Spain
A controlled natural language (CNL) is essentially a set of instructions for improving the readability and comprehensibility of certain texts. A CNL consists of a list of grammar and syntax dos and don’ts and a dictionary of accepted and prohibited terms designed to help authors and editors produce clear, unambiguous documents. They can also be used by translators to pre-edit texts to make them suitable for machine translation.
In this presentation I will explain how I developed a simple CNL for authoring or pre-editing medical abstracts in Spanish to make them suitable for translation in Google Translate. The basic grammar and syntax rules developed for this Spanish CNL can be adapted to other languages, and the dictionary was created using the free concordancer and text analysis tool AntConc. To test the controlled language, I pre-edited 10 hitherto untranslated Spanish medical abstracts using my CNL, and then translated them in Google Translate. The completed translations (without post-editing) were then evaluated by two professional biomedical translators.
Controlled natural languages can greatly improve the quality of machine-translated texts and cut post-editing to a minimum. Simple CNLs such as mine can be used without any prior training, and can even be created by any experienced translator with in-depth knowledge of both source and target languages.
Jennifer Gray is a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and holder of the DipTrans certificate and Diploma in Technical Translation from the University of Westminster. She has more than 15 years’ experience in translation, specialising in biomedicine and law. She became interested in controlled natural languages while studying for a Master’s degree at Portsmouth University, and for the past year has been researching the practical application of these tools for authors and translators. She has lived in Spain for 35 years, but now divides her time between the sunny Mediterranean and the chilly winds of Sweden.