Even for those learning a new language, consuming news content requires a high level of understanding. One Hungarian translator has volunteered efforts to deliver timely pandemic information to Hungary’s immigrant communities.
As people around the world await new pieces of information about COVID-19, many expatriates have struggled to stay current with local decisions and mandates. One Hungarian translator, however, has made a concerted effort throughout the crisis to disseminate the most recent information to immigrant communities in Hungary.
Setting up a Facebook group for his international network, István Fülöp, the founder of TrM Translations, began posting unofficial highlights of what officials had said regarding the pandemic, attaching links for additional information. The group started small, but word spread, and hundreds tuned in multiple times per day to catch up with important updates.
A month into his voluntary effort, Fülöp began trying out machine translations (MT), asking users to comment on the effectiveness of the MT. Some users pointed out that translating from and into languages like French and Italian could produce fairly effect MT, but languages like Hungarian, with its rules and exceptions to the rules, created a bigger challenge.
Despite the low-quality results Hungarian has yielded in Fülöp’s MT efforts, users have noticed that the MT has made steady improvements, depending on the nature of the text. Overall, for the purposes of this group, Fülöp’s MT helped many expats deal with the constant inflow of new information.
Still, Fülöp noted, “A clear risk of using machine translation is that while the sentences generated are meaningful, sometimes the information they convey is the exact opposite of what the original text says, or there might be significant omissions.”
“Working on this news gisting service helped me keep my mind off things by keeping me busy,” said Fülöp. “It helped me stay up-to-date without giving me time to dwell on the bad news. The group helped me streamline our new service of human-edited machine translation, a budget solution to translate larger volumes of text quickly with reasonable quality while keeping our clients’ costs low.”