Given India’s vast linguistic diversity, automated and rapid language translation from any Indian language to another has long been desired. In recent years, rapid technological advances in areas such as artificial intelligence-driven translation have been witnessed around the world. To achieve this long-standing objective and harness recent technological advances, the Natural Language Translation Mission has been initiated on the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
The mission’s objective is to make the opportunities and progress in science and technology accessible to all citizens in their mother tongue. Using a combination of machine and human translation, the mission aims at enabling access to teaching and research material bilingually – in English and every citizen’s own Indian language. To accomplish this task, it will make use of the existing technologies and support the development of new technologies as well.
A blog by Dr. S. K. Srivastava provides a detailed historical and global overview of this rapidly-emerging field of technology, which has seen immense effort from at least two generations of scientists and mathematicians. This blog will give the reader an insight into,
a) how this suite of technologies evolved in various countries in the last few decades,
b) Indian efforts through various programs and missions, and
c) the advances in recent years that have accelerated progress to a point that the vision of rapid automated translation seems imminently achievable
The work on machine translation (MT) has been progressing at many institutions since the mid of the last century. Despite this effort, no perfect machine translator has so far been developed due to the high complexity involved in automating the task of language translation. However, several machine-assisted translation systems (with a human is in the loop) have been developed and used during the last few decades to increase the productivity of human translators. During the last five years, the field has seen a substantial improvement in the quality of the MT systems with the emergence of neural machine translation based on neural processing and deep learning. The article provides an overview of MT at both the national and international levels. It also presents a historical perspective of the field covering important projects, technology advances, and initiatives taken across the world as well as in India.
The blog is published as a series of four blog posts.