I’ll be speaking to you using language, because I can. This is one of these magical abilities that we humans have. We can transmit really complicated thoughts to one another.
This post is a part of the series of posts where I’m gonna share my journey with TranslateMe.
I joined their community several months ago, and I’m just a general user there.
Just like TranslateMe project is the work in progress, this series of posts is the work in progress as well, which means that the information provided here might change after a while (because my understanding of this project might change after a while as well). In my posts I’ll try to provide my understanding of this project, TranslateMe solutions and what impact all that stuff could have on translation industry and humanity. As for now, I really like the project, and the ultimate goal of all these posts is to provide constructive criticism (as opposed to destructive criticism)/share information about this project with people to help to improve somehow that project a little bit. For more reliable information you definitely should go to their website / read whitepaper / do your own research/experiments / talk with the team (which is highly polite and responsive talking with users on their Telegram group) (I’ll provide the links about TranslateMe at the end of this post).
I found out about Steemit in June, 2018. Also I’m interested in linguistics/translation (non-expert). Once I intentionally began to search for something like “decentralization blockchain translation”. I was hoping to find a solution which is something like Steemit but for translators (I know about that DaVinci project and I’m not gonna talk about it in my posts). What I found out in autumn (2018) is that there’s a project called Langpie. And it turned out that it was an ICO (initial coin offering) scam. And yes (of course/no doubts/it’s obvious) the guys behind it were Russians ).
So, I continued to search for “decentralization blockchain translation” with Google. And in February I found out about TranslateMe, which I think was exactly was I was looking for.
So, let’s come to the point.
TranslateMe is a legal entity from Mauritius (Republic of Mauritius).
At the same time the TranslateMe team use TranslateMe term to denote
a network of people and machines
And looks like by TranslateMe they also denote their unique algorithm to do translation.
TranslateMe = Neural Machine Translation (NMT) + computing power + human input
The best thing about Neural Machine Translation is that the system can learn, and easily improve upon previous translations, if given corrections
And all that stuff somehow is powered by the blockchain, which in this case is NEO (no, this has nothing to do with “The Matrix” and Thomas Anderson (aka Neo)).
TMN (TranslateMe Token)
is a digital, crypto-graphic, NEP-5 compatible, utility token that provides access to TranslateMe’s translation platforms
NEP – NEO Enhancement Protocol.
This token is going to be used to reward users for their contributions on TranslateMe Chat App as well as on other TranlsateMe solutions (rewards for translators…).
I’m not gonna provide here detailed explanation of the benefits of the blockchain (I think you know that much better than me). To understand the benefits of the blockchain in the context of this project please visit TranslateMe web-site where you’ll find the links to their Medium posts (“The Ideal Combination of AI, Blockchain Technology and Human Input”, …).
According to their website TranslateMe solutions include (at least):
• TranslateMe Chat App
• TranslateMe Freelancer
• TranslateMe Menu
• TranslateMe Docs
And they will provide developers an API (application programming interface). So, as far as I understand, just like Facebook and VK provide developers their APIs, which allow us to kind of build those websites functionalities into our own websites, platforms which deal with translation could build TranslateMe functionalities to facilitate/improve/reduce costs of their translation process.
(I’ll be talking about that chat application in the next part. Here I’d wanna discuss some general questions).
Why is that translation industry so important?
Recently @macoolette expressed one interesting thought in one of her recent posts related to plastics pollution
…If they did not manufacture the plastics, there will be no wastes like these
Let’s just imagine that all people all over the world know English. In this case there’s no need for translation. Just like
no plastics makers => no plastics pollution (well, I understand that we already have enough)
no different languages => no translation industry
Because there’ll be nothing to translate )
But, as you know, there is a huge amount of plastics dispersed all over the world, and we also have a lot of languages.
In the next post (Part 1.) of this series devoted to TranslateMe Chat App, you’ll see that TranslateMe uses English as an intermediate between languages. I mean that when you leave there a message (in Spanish in the next example), then for the person who wants to see that in Russian happens something like:
Spanish (original message) -> machine-generated English -> machine-generated Russian
So, my question is why not just teach all people all over the world English, so that they could use it and communicate. Possibly, it would even be cheaper than all that translation industry.
Why would we even need to somehow preserve languages?
Why not just let them die, if all that we need is just to have a reliable way of communication?
To have a second language is to have a second soul
Let’s try to follow this logic:
A banker, a serial killer, and a gangster, and a priest are made by environment.
That environment is not only about biological species (plants, animals, fungi…). It also includes human cultures. And our languages are a part of those cultures, hence they are also a part of the environment.
So, we get something like:
environment (+culture (+language)) -> human behaviour (+way of thinking)
Some scientific data…
Lera Boroditsky in her TED Talk called “How language shapes the way we think” gave an example of Aboriginal community in Australia.
For guys of that community
everything is in cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.
You would say something like, "Oh, there's an ant on your south-west leg".
Or, "Move your cup to the north-north-east a little bit".
And instead of "Hello" they ask which way you're going and report each other their cardinal direction in response .
In that community a five-year-old boy could tell you where he is going (cardinal direction)
And what about you?
If your language and your culture trains you to do it, actually, you can do it.
So, the cognitive abilities given to humans by their languages are different (because languages are different).
There’s one word in English for any hues of blue – “blue”.
While the Russian speakers use “goluboy” to denote lighter hues of blue and "siniy" to denote darker hues of blue.
The critical difference in this case is not that English speakers cannot distinguish between light and dark blues, but rather that Russian speakers cannot avoid distinguishing them: they must do so to speak Russian in a conventional manner
Russians faster tell you the difference between these two sets of hues, and their brain shows a surprised reaction when that colour change from light to dark, while the brain of English speakers doesn’t show that reaction .
And now we can understand the importance of every language. The more languages you know, the more flexible your way of thinking is, the more chances you have to solve your problems (including scientific ones).
I’d say that by losing one more language we’re losing kind of one more "layer of reality".
And there’re more than 7,110 universes/layers of reality/languages spoken across the world .
As a biologist, I’d like to follow Lera Boroditsky's way of thinking and talk about languages as “living things” (organisms).
And just like in case with biodiversity, which we are trying to protect on the Earth (I hope), we should protect the biodiversity of languages (living things).
Now, to my understanding, for the language to live there should be some people who use it.
And there are several aspects of the languages which are studied by:
lexicology (words (their sense));
grammatics (the most important relationships between events and objects/subjects);
To preserve all that stuff of languages we also use books, audio/video-records, TV, radio…
And, in the internet age internet resources also might help us with that (Wikipedia, Google Translate, captions of YouTube, Facebook, Coursera-like initiatives (The Global Translator Community)…).
We're losing about one language a week, and by some estimates, half
of the world's languages will be gone in the next hundred years.
(In the next part we’ll try to find out how exactly TranslateMe Chat App (and, possibly, other their solutions) could help to preserve languages and will talk about that app in more detail (and how it is different from Google Translate-like solutions))
Official web-site: https://translateme.network
TranslateMe Telegram Application (MVP (minimum viable product), kind of prototype): http://telegram.translateme.chat
TMN listed on Switcheo: https://switcheo.exchange/markets/TMN_NEO
Android MVP: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.telegram.VicMacmessenger