This paper begins with the following question: What is the relation between memory and translation? If a computer, which can be given a very large amount of memory, stored millions and millions of documents and their human translations would that computer then be able to translate just like a human? The paper then explores a limitation to automatic translation based on memory. This limitation is explained in terms of the Black Box Myth of translation. However, despite this limitation, the usefulness of computers is explored as productivity tools for human translators. Then the study asks what properties might be needed in a computer, besides memory, in order to allow it to translate like a human and how to tell whether a computer has acquired human translation skills. A variation of the Turing Test is proposed as a diagnostic, along with various intermediate translation-based tests for theories of meaning. The paper ends with some philosophical speculation about the possible role of free will in language, including translation, and how a certain position on this question might influence future studies in the area of translation and cognition.
Lakoff, G. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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