Errare humanum est

September 23, 2014

Today Unbabel is launching automatic spell-checking to make our Editor’s lives easier and deliver high quality translations faster.

“Errare humanum est”, a Latin expression attributed to famous Roman philosopher Seneca, means that making mistakes is part of being human, and that we should accept that humans are not flawless.
Today we are launching automatic spell-check on the editor interface. This new functionality will improve our editors editing speed and quality output.

Why are we doing this?

We can obviously agree that spelling errors are not acceptable when translating. Our editors work hard to spot and correct any spelling mistakes, but “errare humanum est”, so we are providing editors a new tool to help them. This represents another step towards our goal of providing the fastest and most accurate translation service.

Spell-checkers are not new, but…

Our Spell-checker was developed using a proprietary technology we could define as Distributed Dictionary Building based on Collaborative Filtering, which means, to put it simple, that we start with a standard dictionary that will get better overtime. Thus accuracy of the dictionaries will improve rapidly based on all the editor’s contributions. This will lead faster editing and more quality output.

Spell-checker is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the technology and tools we are developing to improve how editors complete the tasks in terms of speed and quality. All this in the end will result in massive increases in the speed and quality of the translations we deliver to our clients.
Vasco Pedro, Unbabel CEO

A minor change with a big return

With the introduction of the Unbabel spellchecker, you should see the typical behaviour of a spellchecker. Any unrecognised word will be pointed out and the correct spelling of the word will be available to you. Also, any new entry can be added to a dictionary.

Here’s what’s new: Unbabel will use these new entries to help all editors with consistency across the platform. By building a Community Dictionary, able to recognize terms particular to a certain topic, brand or customer will reduce ambiguity a great deal.

What defines a good entry?

We are leveraging the editor community to make sure our Dictionary improves and includes more words. For this to work, it is critical that our editors understand when they should add a word or not.

  • The word is in the original language — the editor should make sure that it needs to be translated based on the context and actual text. If, for example, in a English to Spanish translation the original text says “click on the ‘submit’ button” and there are instructions to not translate words in single quotes — then if the previous editor translated ‘submit’ for “enviar” the editor should correct and include ‘submit’ — that word should not be recognised in Spanish and so marked as a spelling error. In this case the editor should not replace the word and should not add the word — it is not a Spanish word, right?!
  • The word is in different language — e.g. a Brand Name like “Apple” — and the editor wants to use it in the translated text, then you should click on it and add it to the Community Dictionary.

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