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Amazon Translate makes it easier to generate customized translations

Amazon Translate

Amazon Web Services Inc. said today it’s enhancing its Amazon Translate machine translation service with a new feature that gives users more control over their output.

Amazon Translate is an automated translation service that uses machine learning to convert text between different languages. The service is provided via an application programming interface that allows companies to hook it up to their chatbots and customer support systems, so they can quickly translate text.

The new feature announced today is called Active Custom Translation, and it enables users to generate customized translation output on the fly with parallel data, without needing to build specific models first.

In a blog post, Watson G. Srivathsan, a senior product manager for Amazon Translate, and Xingyao Wang, a software development engineer, said Active Custom Translation works in a similar way to professional human translators. They use examples of previous translations to customize their interpretations for customers.

Srivathsan and Wang said Active Custom Translation can be used to select a preferred translation in Spanish for the phrase, “How are you?” for example. Users can instruct Amazon Translate to translate the phrase into the more informal “¿Cómo estás?” or the more correct “¿Cómo está usted?” according to their preference.

To customize the translations, users simply provide translation examples in a TMX, TSV or CSV format to create the parallel data set. Amazon Translate will then use this data as an example for whatever batch translation job is being run. So if the parallel data shows “How are you?” being translated as “¿Cómo estás?” that’s the output users will see.

Previously, generating customized translations was an arduous task that involved building specific-purpose translation engines that require lots of data. And once deployed, those engines need to be maintained through frequent updates, making it all very expensive, Srivathsan and Wang said.

With Amazon Translate Active Custom Translation, users no longer have to build any additional models, and it’s entirely free to use too, with users simply being charged for the number of words they translate, as before. Users can also update their parallel data as often as they like, at no additional charge.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Holger Mueller said Amazon appears to be making progress on the machine translation front. “This is one of the hottest areas in AI, and it will have massive implications on how we use our devices, because speech is the new user interface,” he said.

Active Custom Translation is available now for all Amazon Translate customers.

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