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machine translation bias removal tool
Status update

What’s new with Fairslator #2

Fairslator now speaks French, and other news.

It’s been a busy summer for Fairslator: I have been presenting the machine translation bias removal tool (because that’s what Fairslator is!) at a couple of conferences and I have added another language pair, Fairslator’s fourth. So yes, it’s time for another status update.

Three reasons why you shouldn’t use machine translation for French

Fairslator now translates from English to French, bringing the total number of our language pairs to four. Whenever you need to translate something which is gender-neutral in English but needs to be gender-specific in French, Fairslator will help you choose the correct translation. Fairslator will also help you choose between singular and plural readings of ‘you’ and between formal and informal forms of address: tu versus vous. Read all about it in my recent blog post Three reasons why you shouldn’t use machine translation for French.

Russian peace flag. This alternative, unofficial flag of Russia is used by Russian anti-war protesters as a symbol of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine (image from whitebluewhite.info).

The next language pair I want to do after English-to-French is English-to-Russian. This language pair poses pretty much the same challenges as the ones Fairslator already has: there are a lot of gender ambiguities (sentences such as ‘I am a student’ and ‘I am happy’ have two translations depending on whether ‘I’ is a man or a woman) and there are two different second-person pronouns depending on what exactly one means by ‘you’.

Once there, I will have pretty much reached the end of the list of languages where I can do it on my own because I either speak them or know enough about them: English, German, Czech, Irish, French and Russian. My next challenge after that will be to look at language pairs without English, for example German-to-Czech or French-to-Russian. These language pairs bring a new set of challenges, all related to the fact that machine translators often secretly use English behind the scenes as an intermediary language. That’s why information about gender and forms of address sometimes gets lost in the translation. I think it is possible to detect and correct such errors automatically, so watch this space!

A taxonomy of bias-causing ambiguities in machine translation

This year’s Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing workshop in July was an event where I revealed some of the internal workings of Fairslator: you can read about it in my paper A Taxonomy of Bias-Causing Ambiguities in Machine Translation. Then, in September, I had the honour to present Fairslator at the Text, Speech and Dialogue (TSD) conference in my own home town, Brno. And that’s not all for this year: in November I am travelling to Luxembourg for the two-day Translating and the Computer conference, again to present Fairslator. See you there, maybe?


So, this is all the news about Fairslator from the summer of 2022. Thank you for your interest in this project and talk to you again soon!

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Faislator blog

| Status update
What’s new with Fairslator #3
Fairslator is now available as a browser plug-in, and other news.
| Machine translation
Google Translate versus gender bias
How does Google Translate handle gender-ambiguous input? With difficulty.
| Gendergerechte Sprache
Kann man das Gendern automatisieren?
Überall Gendersternchen verstreuen und fertig? Von wegen. Geschlechtergerecht zu texten, das braucht vor allem Kreativität.
| Oh là là
Three reasons why you shouldn’t use machine translation for French
But if you must, at least run it through Fairslator.
| Ó Bhéarla go Gaeilge
Tusa, sibhse agus an meaisínaistriúchán ó Bhéarla
Tugaimis droim láimhe leis an mhíthuiscint nach bhfuil ach aon aistriúchán amháin ar gach rud.
| Status update
What’s new with Fairslator #1
A new language pair, some new publications, plus what's in the pipeline.
| Machine translation
Finally, an Irish translation app that knows the difference between ‘tú’ and ‘sibh’
It asks you how you want to translate ‘you’.
| Forms of address
Why machine translation has a problem with ‘you’
This innocent-looking English pronoun is surprisingly difficult to translate into other languages.
| Male and female
10 things you should know about gender bias in machine translation
Machine translation is getting better all the time, but the problem of gender bias remains. Read these ten questions and answers if you want to understand all about it.
| Machine translation in Czech
Finally, a translation app that knows the difference between Czech ‘ty’ and ‘vy’!
Wouldn’t it be nice if machine translation asked how you want to translate ‘you’?
| Gender bias in machine translation
Gender versus Czech
In Czech we don’t say ‘I am happy’, we say ‘I as a man am happy’ or ‘I as a woman am happy’.
| German machine translation
Finally, a translation app that knows the difference between German ‘du’ and ‘Sie’!
Wouldn’t it be nice if machine translation asked how you want to translate ‘you’?
| Strojový překlad
Představ si, že jseš stroj, který překládá
Proč se překladače nikdy neptají, jak to myslíme?
| Maschinelle Übersetzung
Stell dir vor, du bist DeepL
Warum fragt der Übersetzer eigentlich nicht, was ich meine?

Fairslator timeline

icon February 2023 — We spoke to machinetranslation.com about bias in machine translation, about Fairslator, and about our vision for “human-assisted machine translation”. Read the interview here: Creating an Inclusive AI Future: The Importance of Non-Binary Representation »
icon October 2022 — We demonstrated Fairslator at the Translating and the Computer (TC44) conference, Europe's main annual event for computer-aided translation, in Luxembourg. Read our impressions from TC44 in this thread on Twitter and Mastodon.
icon September 2022 — In her article Error sources in machine translation: How the algorithm reproduces unwanted gender roles (German: Fehlerquellen der maschinellen Übersetzung: Wie der Algorithmus ungewollte Rollenbilder reproduziert), Jasmin Nesbigall of oneword GmbH talks about bias in machine translation and recommends Fairslator as a step towards more gender fairness.
icon September 2022 — Fairslator was presented at the Text, Speech and Dialogue (TSD) conference in Brno.
icon August 2022Translations in London are talking about Fairslator in their blog post Overcoming gender bias in MT. They think the technology behind Fairslator could be useful in the translation industry for faster post-editing of machine-translated texts.
August 2022 — A fourth language pair released: English → French.
icon July 2022 — Germany's Goethe-Institut interviewed us for the website of their project Artificially Correct. Read the interview in German: Wenn die Maschine den Menschen fragt or in English: When the machine asks the human, or see this short video on Twitter.
icon May 2022Slator.com, a website for the translation industry, asked us for a guest post and of course we didn't say no. Read What You Need to Know About Bias in Machine Translation »
April 2022 — A third language pair added: English → Irish.
February 2022 — Fairslator launched with two language pairs: English → German, English → Czech. Cries of excitement from everywhere!