IT and Public Policy
Information and Communication Technology covers a wide area; generally information as well as wireless. In general, ICT refers to the role of combined communications as well as the assimilation of telecommunications, which makes it easier for creation, access, storage transmission and manipulation of information. Lately, ICT forms part of the basic needs of humans because without it life will never go on smoothly. Arguably, the world is becoming lesser than we may realize. Currently, it is possible to communicate individuals of various fashions, customs, traditions as well as languages, thanks to advancement in technology. From my point of view, a growing and important aspect of information technology with huge social implications is that the technology will soon close all language barriers. My vision in the near future on the fly translation will occur. Somebody that is French communicates with somebody that is English or Chinese with no errors. Translation programs have been around for years. It is only recently that the technology and software has been developed that gives word by word translation; this technology can only develop as it has already, but the biggest issue is how to handle context. Therefore, the this paper will be focusing on the effects of Information Technology and public policy in Canada as far as translation of languages is concerned.
In Canada, there are a multitude of languages used by various indigenous groups. However, English and French are the official language according to the constitution of Canada. The two languages are the only languages that are supposed to be used in all federal government institutions in the country. This implies that it is the right of the public to communicate with, as well as receive from the institutions of the federal government in either French or English and that it is the right of the employees of the government to work apply the official language of their choice in chosen bilingual areas, (Claude, 2010, pp. 1-7). Lately, the Canadian government has tried to advance impartiality of status and use of the French and English language within the society of Canada as well as offering support to expansion of French and English linguistic among the minority populations.
As mentioned above, with advancement in information technology there is a possibility of eradicating language barriers in Canada. Notably, although French and English are the only official languages in Canada, there is no law that has been enacted prohibiting the use of the other languages elsewhere apart from in public offices. Therefore, applying technology in translating other languages apart from French and English is not a big issue. In any case, this will be one way in which discrimination against the minority groups who cannot speak English and French can be minimized in public offices. In fact, in with this kind of knowledge it will no longer be necessary to use both English and French at the workplace. In the near future, human translators and books will no longer be needed. Thus, based on this argument there is no problem in using software to translate other languages in Canada but they should not be used to replace French and English as the national languages in the country.
Translation Services in Toronto
Toronto is one of the cities in Canada that is inhabited by people from various communities within Canada. Based on studies that have been carried in the recent past, there are more than eighty languages in Toronto. Perhaps, innovations and inventions in information technology have led to production of software as well as machines that can translate one language to several languages within a very short time, (Edith, 2011, pp. 39-45). Consequently, although there are many different languages in Toronto, application of these kinds of software and machines will be very effective in promoting communication within this city. Currently, few machines as well as software for translating local languages in Toronto are available but with time all the languages will be covered. Thus, leaving out one language will not be an element of discrimination, because eventually all the languages will be covered.
Quebec’s reaction on translations of other languages
Quebec is a province that is located in east-central Canada. It is the only province in the country with a large French-speaking population and the only province which French as the official language at the provincial level. According to a legislation that was passed by the National Assembly of Quebec, French will be used as the official language in various areas: language of legislation as well as justice; language of instruction; language of business and labor relations; and finally, language of commercial signing.
Based on the history of Quebec, it is expected to object the translation of other languages. For instance, in the past public schools were not allowed to use English language and restrictions were imposed on children who could speak English. Additionally, in the context of legislation, French language was given priority in case of any ambiguity, (Claude, 2010, pp. 1-7). This implies that Quebec as an history of giving priority to French language as the official language and any attempts to promote other languages within the province will not be advocated for. However, due to globalization, translation of French to other languages is inevitable. For the province to grow economically and socially, translation technology must be employed when the people of Quebec are interacting with other people from the other parts of Canada as well as the entire world in official or business functions. Thus, translation technology will be accepted in Quebec in the long-run although more challenges are expected as compared to the other parts of Canada.
How will medical staff handle this technology?
Undeniably, language translation technology has proved to be effective in almost all aspects of human activities. However, its impact in the field of medicine can be said to be more intense. To begin with, in medicine sharing of information is inevitable. The workforce within a healthcare organization must communicate among themselves by sharing information about their clients. Moreover, like in most organization there is a lot of diversity in most healthcare organization, (Chin, 2003, pp. 149-151). Consequently, this kind of technology has proved to be more effective in reducing the negative impacts of diversity in these organizations by reducing language barriers through utilization of language translation machines.
Besides, in order to come up with the right prescription the doctor has to interrogate the client to determine what exactly the problem is. In some cases, it may happen that the client and the doctor understand different languages. In this case, translation machines are utilized to promote an understanding between the client and the doctor. Precisely, these machines can be used to eliminate language barriers between the client and the medical practitioner. Specialization among medical professionals, coupled with cooperation among physicians in treatment and diagnosis, has led to improved service distribution in the medical field. According to Australian Computer Society (2002), this kind of cooperation could not be possible without the application of information technology. For instance, they have to utilize computers in sharing medical information in addition to communicating about their patients. Hence, information technology plays a significant role as far as information and knowledge sharing in concerned.
Importance of information technology in the medical field is also evident in the training of medical practitioners. To be more precise, like in the case of other organizations, medical staffs can apply translation machines in translating information more especially during the training session. Lately, sharing of information with among medical practitioners as well as healthcare organization from various parts of the globe is very common in the medical industry. One of the ways in which the sharing is done is through an exchange programme whereby healthcare organizations send their staff to other organization to gain more knowledge in a given field. At this point, translation machines and specific software come in handy, (Chin, 2003, pp. 149-151). Thus, medical practitioners can work together as they can easily understand one another though application of translation technology.
Lastly, trading the internet is a common phenomenon today. Most organizations are able to sell their products in every part of the world. According the research that has been taken in the recent past; the internet has united the entire globe into one large market where goods as well as service providers meet their clients without necessary meeting physically. Through advancement of information technology, it is now possible for the medical staff to over their services through the internet without necessary meeting their patients, (Edith, 2011, pp. 22-27). Telemedicine is a terminology that is used to refer to the use of information technologies and telecommunication in offering clinical healthcare at a distance. It is very essential in eliminating distance limitations as well as improving medical services which could otherwise not be available. Provision of medical services through the internet requires translation machines to enable the medical staff and the patient to understand one another. Through this technology, healthcare organizations can also sell their products through the internet, just like in the case of organizations in the other industries.
The pros of information technology in language translation
In the current marketplace, the need for translation has increased considerably. Undeniably, machine translation systems have become ever-present lately. The viability of these systems has increased; thanks to the advancement of technology. There are a number of advantages that can be associated with language translation technology.
Cost reduction is another advantage of using software and machines in language translation. To be more precise, application of information technology in language translation eliminates the capacity and cost limitation. In most cases the cost of using human translators increases as the volume of the information increases. Thus, large volume of information may be more costly to translate as well as it may surpass the capacity of human translators. Most organization needs to translate more volumes of information within the shortest time possible, (Chin, 2003, pp. 149-151). The only viable option in this case is to use machines to translate such kind of information as they are cost effective as it cost does not depend on the amount of words translated. Besides being cost effective, another advantage of applying technology in translation of languages is that it promotes human translation productivity.
Lastly, machines are very effective when the information to be translated is confidential. As a matter of fact, certain information cannot remain confidential if human translation services are used. Thus, machine translation systems are preferable when translating such information which usually comprises of private emails, (Pandey, 2005, 24-30). Basically, no individual will allow private messages to be translated by a translator who he does not know. It is even more difficult to trust such individual when financial information is contained in such mails. Thus, machine translation systems are very effective in handling private and confidential information as compared to human translators.
The cons of information technology in language translation
Although information technology has proved to be more effective when it comes to language translation, there are also limitations associated with this technology which makes human translators more effective than machines. Perhaps, one of these limitations is lack of superior exactness in the translations. Arguably, translation software depends on the commands on which on it was developed to translate. It is obvious that one word may have more than one meaning in a given language. Therefore, machine translation systems are not in a position to produce superior exact translation, (Claude, 2010, pp. 1-7). If higher degree of exactness is required more especially in the translation of agreements and official documents, human translators are more effective. Besides choosing the true meaning of a given word depending on the context in which it is being used, human translator can as well choose words that reflect the ‘tone’ or ‘mood’ of the message.
The other limitation of utilizing technology in language translation is that in case of any ambiguity of words and sentences, the meaning of such words or sentences may not be brought out clearly. As mentioned above, machine translation basically depends on the systematic and formal rules used in developing the machine. Therefore, it will be very difficult for the machine to solve issues of ambiguity; unlike for the case of human translator who can use his mental outlook or experience in solving such kind of information. Irrefutably, human translators have the ability to rearrange words and sentences accordingly in order to remove any ambiguity, based on the grammatical rules of the alternate language.
Public policy to help translations to address societal needs
The government has a role to play in nurturing translation technology to benefit the society at large. It has to ensure that policies that would promote the growth of this technology have been implemented. Perhaps, the first policy that should be put into place is a financial policy that is in favor of information technology in general and translation technology in particular. Debatably, considerable costs are incurred in the production of translation machines and software. This has been one of barriers that are encountered by companies that produce these products. Therefore, the government should implement financial policies that will promote production of these machines, (Claude, 2010, pp. 1-7). In the long-run, the society will benefit through the reduction of the cost of these machines. For instance, the government can come up with a policy of subsidizing the production cost of these machines. They might also decide to form a governmental company which will produce these products.
The other policy that the government should implement is the legal policy. For instance, copyrights should be given to the inventors of these machines. This will encourage individuals as well as organizations to invest more of their time as well as resources in establishing how they can make this kind of technology more efficient in the future. This implies that copyrights acts as a motivation for more research to be carried out on how information technology can be used to better the welfare of the society. According to Australian Computer Society (2002), legal policies should allow the pioneers of the technology to sue any individual or organization found reproducing their work without their authority.
Lastly, the government should come up with policies that will be helpful in increasing awareness of translation technology. Perhaps, this could be done for instance, by proposing use of this technology in the public arena such as official functions. They can also use this technology in public offices. This will have a positive impact before the general public as far as the utilization of this technology is concerned.
Arguably, as noted above ICT has become one of the basic needs in life because without it life will not go on smoothly. The world is becoming lesser than we may realize. Currently, it is possible to communicate individuals of various fashions, customs, traditions as well as languages, thanks to advancement in technology. From my point of view, a growing and important aspect of information technology with huge social implications is that the technology will soon close all language barriers. Translation programs have been around for years now and it has made communication easier between parties with different language backgrounds.
In Canada, the official languages are English and French. However, Quebec is the only province in Canada where majority of the population speaks French. Perhaps, it is also the only province which recognizes French only as the official language at the provincial level. Due to globalization, use of translation programs is expected to be advocated for in Canada despite the fact that French and English are the only official language. It is also important to note that translation programs have been very essential within the medical field. For instance, translation programs together with telemedicine have contributed significantly to improvement of medical services throughout the entire world. However, translation programs have their pros and cons. One of the pros is reduction of cost as compared to the use of human translators. The other advantage of these programs is elimination of language barriers. On the other hand, the disadvantage of these programs is that they are not very accurate as they depend on the rules applied in their making. Finally, the government has a big role to play in promoting production of translation programs. For instance, it should come up with policies such as financial and legal policies to encourage the growth of ICT.
Australian Computer Society. ICT Development in Australia: A Strategic Policy Review.
Sydney: Australia Computer Society National Office, 2002.
Edith, G. Why Translation Matters, 2011, Yale: Yale University
Chin, J.J. The Use of Information Technology in Medicine: Defining Its Role and Limitations,
Singapore Med J, 2003, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 149-151.
Claude, B. The Language Laws of Quebec, 2010. Retrieved on October 14th 2011 from
Pandey, V.C. Managing and Competing in the Information Age, New York: John Willey & Sons