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Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics (1966)

Chapter: Appendix 3. The Joint Publications Research Service

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix 3. The Joint Publications Research Service." National Research Council. 1966. Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9547.
Page 39
Suggested Citation:"Appendix 3. The Joint Publications Research Service." National Research Council. 1966. Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9547.
Page 40

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Appendix 3 The Joint Publications Research Service The Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS), a component of the Clearinghouse for Federal Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Department of Commerce, was established in 1957 by a group of federal agencies that needed English translations of books, news- papers, periodical articles, and other materials being published in a variety of languages. Using a small staff of professional linguists, a search was made to locate the thousands of specialists—chemists, physicists, politi- cal scientists, economists—who, although already working in their special fields, possessed knowledge of a foreign language and were willing to translate materials in their fields on a part-time, con- tract basis at home. New York was chosen for the first office because of its large population, which, it was felt, would yield the greatest number of linguists of any single area in the United States. Success in finding competent translators was immediate, and another office was opened in Washington, D.C., in August 1957. Three years later, with a still-growing load, a third JPRS office was opened in San Francisco. Although begun as a cooperative venture in 1957, the JPRS was absorbed by the Office of Technical Services in 1958, when it assumed responsibility for collecting translations and making them available to the public. The growth of the JPRS can be seen by comparing the 38,000 published pages produced from March 1957 through June 1958 with the 273,449 pages published in Fiscal Year 1964. The first year's production was about 70 percent scientific and technical material, whereas production for Fiscal Year 1964 was about half that, or 35 percent. A considerable number of translations published by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) are translated by the JPRS but sent to the AEC for publication as a part of its series; the same holds for translations done for the Army Biological Laboratory, Redstone 39

Arsenal, the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Aviation Agency, and other agencies. Materials of broad current interest spotted by analysts, scien- tists, and others in government are sent to the JPRS for transla- tion and for publication. Over the years, under this program, JPRS has developed serial titles under which a great deal of similar information has been placed. For example, Translations on Inter- national Communist Developments contains materials from any foreign newspaper or periodical that sheds light on the develop- ments, policies, debates, or other activities of the Communist parties of all countries. Copies of these and of all other transla- tions are then distributed not only to the initiating component, but to all participating organizations. The series are then available on subscription to anyone outside the government who is interested. In science and technology, the JPRS series on Foreign Develop- ments in Machine Translation and Information Processing, 173 issue of which have been published, has proven valuable to researchers in the field. For example, a recent Office of Technical Services spe- cial bibliography on machine translation lists 250 citations of re- ports and translations on the subject; 118 of these were JPRS reports JPRS charges the government agencies for which it works the same price for all translations regardless of subject matter or lan- guage. This price is currently $16 per 1,000 words of English. This figure has been arrived at by a study of the total costs involved and includes overhead. Of the $16 per 1,000 words paid by the requesting agency, the translators are getting, on the average, $8 to $11 for simple newspaper-type material (the low) and $20 for Chinese (the high). Editing costs about $~.50 per 1,000 words, the typing about $1.50, and the overhead about $2.00. The translation comes back from the contractors on tapes, in rough draft, and in completed typewritten form. The amount paid the translator is dependent (in addition to the language of the original) upon how much extra work the JPRS has to do on the translation after the contractor has submitted it. The policy of the JPRS regarding lag-time is as follows: 50 pages of translation will be done and returned to the requester in 15 days; 100 pages will be done in 30 days. The JPRS currently has about 4,000 translators under contract, with a potential of an additional 1,500 available almost immediately On the average, JPRS utilizes the services of about 300 of its bans lators in any given month. Thus, it appears that JPRS is producing translations reasonably quickly and quite economically, and, further- more, that it has the capability of immediately expanding its operations . 40

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