Assessment of Google’s Translation of Legal Texts
تقويم ترجمات جوجل للنصوص القانونية
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Translation
Basel Abd-Alkareem Hijazi
Professor Abdul Baki As-Safi
Assessment of Google’s Translation
of Legal Texts
Basel Abd-AlKareem Hijazi
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Translation
To my mother and father who have inspired me throughout my personal and professional life.
I would first like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor Professor Abdelbaki As-Safi whose guidance, shared knowledge, mental and psychological support made this work possible. I consider myself tremendously lucky to have been supervised by Professor As-Safi who has created a research environment that is thrilling, productive, light-hearted, motivating and cooperative. Professor As-Safi’s energetic commitment to research and mentorship has rubbed off on me. He has given me far more time and guidance than I could have expected or asked for.
I am particularly indebted to the committee members for the feedback they provide and their patience in thoroughly reading through the thesis.
It is also my duty to record my thankfulness to the University of Petra and in particular Dr. Nehal Ameera who has been abundantly helpful starting from the day I joined the university up to the end of the course of this thesis.
I take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to my parents for their generous financial and psychological support. I should not forget my wife for her moral support throughout my MA studies. I express my gratitude to my two kids, Karim and Ahmad, who have been very patient and understanding during the period of my study.
Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Royal Jordanian Air Force for granting me the permission to further my studies, and for assisting me in different aspects throughout the duration of my MA Program.
In recent years, research as well as software applications have been concentrating on Machine Translation (MT). This is due to many factors, the most important of which is the increasing need to create online communication between different parts of the world and between people speaking different languages. Translation between two languages, which are distant and have different structures, e.g. Arabic and English, poses a challenge for linguists who aim at developing a system which could contribute towards more accurate Machine Translation.
The current thesis conducts an experiment on Google Translate, which is considered one of the most popular ‘web-based’ free tools. An experiment is carried out on fourteen English-authentic articles extracted from six different legal contracts. These articles are fed into the system which in return produces Arabic outputs as translations of the articles.
An assessment is performed to analyze the performance of the tool in handling the legal text on two main levels, the lexical and the syntactic respectively. An error analysis is also furnished on both levels by categorizing the errors under the two levels. Each level includes three subcategories of problems that recur in the assessment. The lexical level breaks into polysemy and homonymy, legal doublets, and legal adverbs. On the other hand, the syntactic level includes problems of morphological parsing, concord and modality.
The overall assessment shows that the system is not feasible in the field of legal translation as such practice is characterized by paramount precision that Google Translate fails to achieve. However, the system can usually furnish a gist of the input which can help end users to figure out the subject matter of the source text.