Machine Translation

Peter Constable petercon at
Fri Sep 11 03:24:24 CEST 2009

You're confusing the roles of Reviewer and individual contributor to this list. As an individual contributor, you may have opinions and arguments as to potentially valuable usage scenarios for the proposed tag -- or the lack thereof -- but as individual contributor you should not be making unilateral decisions as to what the outcome will be. In your role as Reviewer, you should be entertaining several points of view, allowing proponents for different options to make their case, and waiting to see what consensus emerges before evaluating the consensus of the list. The decisions should be the consensus of the list, not yours alone.

I'm sorry if I have really angered you; I am really angered when you act in the role of Reviewer inappropriately. I am not at this point supporting Debbie's proposal, but I strongly object to things that might appear to stifle discussion. IMO, your statement at an early stage of discussion before Debbie or anyone else interested has really made their case was inappropriate. Voice your opinion on technical merits like everyone else, but you should wait until there's been reasonable discussion before expressing your inclination as Reviewer on the outcome.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 1:45 PM
To: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion
Subject: Re: Machine Translation

On 10 Sep 2009, at 16:56, Peter Constable wrote:

> Michael, this is you at your worst in the role of Reviewer. You're 
> reacting just the same way as you did when we had requests for tags 
> for "Latin American Spanish": it doesn't fit your understanding of 
> linguistic realities, and so you think it's out of scope. You're 
> wrong!

I disagree. I also think that your comment is not civil.

Any piece of text can be translated from one language to another.
It can be translated well, or badly.
It can be translated by a person, or by a machine.
That is an authorship tag.
There is no way of knowing whether a bad translation was written by a person or a machine.
There is no way of knowing whether a good translation was written by a person or a machine.

This machine tag could not distinguish between an accurate translation or an inaccurate one. It has no a priori rationale but to be some sort of vague "caveat" and since a translation might as well be accurate as inaccurate, what good would such a caveat yield?

> The whole purpose of IETF language tags is to be used in processes.  
> There is no reason to tag content unless some process somewhere is 
> going to do something with that information.

Yes, the tags are used *in processes*. The tags tag *entities*, however; they do not tag *processes*. We will not have a tag <human> to indicate that a human wrote text, or translated it, will we?

> I'm not at all convinced that there are reasonable use cases that 
> warrant a subtag (or extension) for indicating MT content, but I 
> really object to you ruling this out from the outset.

This really angers me, Peter. I said "I foresee little likelihood".  
This is not "I promise to reject". It is my present opinion (I do, in fact, foresee little likelihood that reasonable use cases can be presented); I am entitled to hold this opinion, and I am entitled to express it if I wish.

Am I not?

I think you are out of line insulting me in your first sentence, and out of line in saying that I said what I did not say.

Michael Everson * _______________________________________________
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