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Swedish translation system gets EU funding

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17:19 CET+01:00
A research group led by the University of Gothenburg in the west of Sweden, has been granted 25 million kronor ($3.5 million) in EU funding to develop an online multilingual translation system covering most European languages.

The system, which can translate a number of languages simultaneously, will be more accurate and reliable than existing programmes, says Aarne Ranta, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Gothenburg.

"The current tools out there, such as Google Translator, do not give good quality translations. They are okay for browsing and to get an idea of what is in a text but most people would not use them to translate something important," he told The Local.

"The EU grant allows us to develop technology we are already working with into a translation tool for the internet. The plan is that producers of web pages should be able to freely download the tool and translate texts into several languages simultaneously."

The new system, called MOLTO, differs from most translation programmes, which use machine learning to learn from their mistakes. It comes with a detailed set of grammatical rules and a vocabulary database which can be adapted to the subject matter for translation.

This, says Ranta, will give the new translator an edge over competitors.

"MOLTO begins with precision and grammar, and wide coverage comes later," he said.

"We wanted to work with a translation technique that was so accurate that people who produce texts can use our translations directly."

A prototype of the system will be online in mid 2010 and MOLTO will be ready for general use by 2013.

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