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Suggested Citation:"Human Translation." National Research Council. 1966. Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9547.
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Human Transtation In order to have an appreciation either of the underlying nature and difficulties of translation or of the present resources and problems of translation, it is necessary to know something about human trans- lation and human translators. Thus, early in the course of its study the Committee heard from a number of experts in translation. These experts seem to agree that the three requisites in a translator, in order of importance, are (1) good knowledge of the target language, (2) comprehension of the subject matter, and, (3) adequate knowledge of the source language. Therefore, while good translations into English are made by some translators whose native tongue is not English, in general, transla- tors whose native tongue is English are preferable. Furthermore, while good translations are made by some translators who have a general appreciation of scientific knowledge, the best technical trans- lations are generally made by experts in the technical field covered. It also seems clear that a restricted competence in the source lan- guage is adequate when the translator is expert in the subject matter It was emphasized by several persons who made presentations to the Committee that translators need good dictionaries and ref- erence books. This need is especially important when a long work is split up for translation, for in such cases adequate dictionaries or glossaries are essential if technical terms are to be translated consistently. Translators use a variety of aids, including dictating machines and typewriters, but they do not always produce a final copy suitable for reproduction. The final copy, with figures and equations inserted, is usually produced by the central service. Despite the substantial services performed by the Joint Publications Research Service (JARS) or by similar agencies, the greater part of the cost of translation usually goes to the translator. One experiment that has come to the attention of the Committee indicates that a rapidly dictated translation is almost as good as a "full translation" and takes only about one fourth the time (see Appendix 1~. 1

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