A Tribute to Brian Harris
Edited By María Jesús Blasco Mayor and María Amparo Jimenez Ivars
I Machine Translation
IMachine Translation Brian Harris, Universidad de Valladolid ¡Cuéntame cómo pasó! – a memoir of machine translation in Montreal circa 19701 Introduction Behind the technical description of any period of research and its achievements lies another history, that of the people who were in- volved and of those who were the leaders; and of the social and cultural milieu that supported them and in which they thought and moved. When you have reached, to use a euphemism, an ‘advanced age’, you realise that you are the privileged repository of informa- tion of that second kind which will disappear with you if you do not set it down. Hence I have decided to relate here my own experi- ences as a junior member of a research team in an exciting period of research on machine translation (MT). All of it took place in the heady times through which the city of Montreal, the Province of Quebec and the country of Canada lived and rejoiced in the 1970s.2 The technical description is already adequately treated in works like Hutchins (1986) and Colmerauer (1971). This was before I switched my attention to the practice and study of human translation and interpretation in the 1970s. How- ever, there was a link; and it was well expressed in a saying by Mar- tin Kay, who was and still is a prominent figure in computational linguistics: “The trouble with research on machine translation is that we don’t know enough about translation.” 1 Cuéntame cómo...
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