“Automatic translation” or “machine translation” systems have been available for a number of years. The underlying assumption is that a computer can translate as well as a human translator.
We have recently tried out two machine translation systems available on the internet. We tested their ability to translate two short texts: one financial, the other legal.
First, here is the original French financial text we submitted for translation:
“Le résultat net progresse de 48 % mais le BPA de 27 % seulement du fait d’exceptionnels élevés. Le résultat net devrait dépasser € 243 million en 2003, et le BPA € 23.”
And here is the correct translation:
“Net earnings went up 48% but EPS only rose by 27% due to high exceptionals. We expect net earnings to exceed € 243 million in 2003, and EPS € 23.”
Some definitions, for non-financial readers:
Résultat net (net earnings): income after taxation recorded by a company at the end of the financial year.
BPA – “benefice par actions” (EPS – earnings per share): net earnings divided by the number of outstanding shares of common stock.
Exceptionnels (exceptionals): income earned or expenditure spent on transactions that are not part of a company’s usual business operations. For example, if a company sells a subsidiary for € 1 million, it will record an exceptional profit or income of € 1 million at the end of the year.
First machine translation:
“The net income increases by 48 % but the BPA of 27 % only because of exceptional high. Should the net income exceed? 243 million in 2003, and the BPA? 23”
Second machine translation:
“The net result progresses of 48% but the BPA of 27% only owing to exceptional students. The net result should surpass € 243 million in 2003, and the BPA € 23.”