[AFRI-Discuss] Automated Translation of emails sent to the LAC and African regional At-Large lists

Nick Ashton-Hart nick.ashton-hart at icann.org
Fri May 11 05:31:15 EDT 2007

Dear Community:

As some of you know, we have been working to implement a machine  
translation of the regional discuss lists in Africa and Latin America  
and the Caribbean.

This service is expected to go live later today.

What will happen is that each email sent to the list will get machine  
translated from the original language into the other languages. The  
original text will appear at the top; the translated versions will  
appear below.

For LAC-Discuss, the languages will be: English, Spanish, Brazilian  
For AFRI-Discuss, the languages will be: English, French, Portuguese

It may interest you to know that many other areas of ICANN are  
interested to see how this new service works, in order to decide  
whether or not they will also begin to machine-translate their lists  
in this way. At-Large is therefore taking a pioneering role once  
again within the ICANN system in trying new approaches to help foster  
understanding by non-native English speakers.

You may see some test emails come across the lists today; this is  
normal, and you should feel free to email normally.

In order for machine translation to produce output which is close to  
the original, there are some simple rules you can follow when  
composing your messages. A link at the bottom of the list emails will  
link to these rules, and they are reproduced below:

We shall invite you to respect the following writing recommendations  
so as to make our translation job easier.

OT = original text

PT = preferred text

1. Check the spelling and grammar of the messages you send us. A  
spelling error will result in a mistranslation or the non-translation  
of a word. A grammatical error will make it more difficult for the  
program to identify the syntactic function of all words in a given  
sentence. Use your spellchecker!

2. The translation engine used to translate your messages is designed  
for texts that are correctly punctuated. Punctuation marks, such as  
commas and periods, help the program to identify sentences and clause  
boundaries. A period should therefore be placed at the end of each  
sentence. The symbols /, *, _ and - should not be contiguous with  
words. Add a space to separate them. For instance, change male/female  
to male / female.

3. Use upper and lower case. A sentence should always start with a  
capital letter; a sentence typed entirely in upper case may cause  
translation problems.

4. Divide lengthy and complex sentences into shorter sentences. In  
particular, avoid using parentheses and dashes to set phrases apart.

5. Whenever possible, avoid using passive structures, for example:  
OT: A copy of the report will be sent to all Allies. PT: We will send  
a copy of the report to all Allies.

6. Whenever possible, avoid idiomatic expressions:

OT: It happens once in a blue moon.

PT: It rarely happens.

7. Include optional words that clarify the function of other words in  
the sentence, such as "that" or "whom" in the examples below:

OT: The book I bought was very interesting.

PT: The book that I bought was very interesting.

OT: The man I wanted to see was on vacation.

PT: The man whom I wanted to see was on vacation.

8. Similarly, if the subject of a sentence refers to more than one  
verb and is separated from the second/third verb by a number of  
words, you should repeat the subject in front of each verb, like this:

OT: They visited our warehouse yesterday and bought several products.

PT: They visited our warehouse yesterday and they bought several  


Nick Ashton-Hart
Director, At-Large
PO Box 32160
London N4 2XY
United Kingdom
Main Tel: +44 (20) 8800-1011]
USA Tel: +1 (202) 657-5460
Fax: +44 (20) 7681-3135
mobile: +44 (7774) 932798
email: nick.ashton-hart at icann.org
Win IM: ashtonhart at hotmail.com / AIM/iSight: nashtonhart at mac.com /  
Skype: nashtonhart
Online Bio:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashtonhart

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