Monday, February 10, 2020

How And Why To Paraphrase Text By Using Back-Translation by Beatrice Beard

It can be a real chore having to paraphrase a block of text. Reading and paraphrasing text takes a good amount of time and often requires the help of a thesaurus to guide you through the changes.

There are lots of reasons that you might want to paraphrase text and it's becoming an increasingly important job as content development has become more and more important online. There are also more nefarious reasons (like wanting to take someone else's writing) but there are plenty of interesting reasons as to why you need to get the job done. 

Given that it's tedious doing it by hand, how can get it done more easily? Through back-translating. 

Let's take a look at how that works.

The Back Translating Process


The process of back translating involves Google's 'Translate' tool, traditionally used for giving translations into one of the over 100 languages that Google offers. "The process is a three-part one, that is very simple and only takes a matter of seconds initially and will speed up your paraphrasing job", explains Chloe Calhoun, writer at WriteMyx and BritStudent.


Step 1: Take whatever the piece of text is that you want to paraphrase and put it into Google Translate. Make sure that it isn’t too long. Google Translate has a 5000 character limit so make sure that your block of text fits in with that. 

Step 2: Translate the text into a foreign language. Ideally, choose one that is noticeably dissimilar to English. Try languages with non-Roman alphabets, or which are simply very different from English. I find that Korean, Irish and Russian are all quite effective languages.

Step 3: Translate the resulting foreign text back into English. The text you are left with will be similar to the original but have some noticeable differences between individual words and turns of phrase.
There you have it, a nice and convenient way to paraphrase text and come up with something similar but different. The work of only a few minutes.

Why Back-Translate Text?

There can be many different reasons that you might want to perform this process and everyone will have a particular desire for having back-translated paraphrased text.

Having the meaning preserved across lots of subtly different texts can be useful for data scientists who need large swathes of textual data to experiment on. This sort of 'multiplying' effect can be useful for lots of other areas as well but will depend on the individual.

“People do try and use back-translating as a method for plagiarizing work. A word of warning if this is you. If you are using it for anything where that is expressly discouraged, you will almost certainly get caught”, says Laura Park, lingua blogger at 1Day2Write and NextCoursework. It won't fool anyone who is on the lookout for it, so it is not recommended. Furthermore, plagiarizing, in general, isn't recommended. Just write it yourself, it shouldn't be too complex.

Another reason to back-translate is to compare translations and refine the meaning. The way that a back translation will take on synonyms and offer alternative turns of phrase is a really interesting way to look at improving and sharpening translation. You can back translate into different languages or the same language multiple times and you will keep landing on different versions of the same text. It gives you a new way to look at language and translation. You can also compare the translations given to the same piece of English text by different languages which can be useful for anyone involved in linguistics to make interesting judgements about the nature of the different languages that are being tested. This can be a really interesting process that can teach a lot.

Hopefully, this article will help you next time you need to paraphrase text for whatever reason that you might have. It's not in the least bit complicated and we should be grateful that such a useful tool is so readily available to us for our use.

Beatrice is a professional copywriter at OriginWritings and AcademicBrits specializing in academic literature. She is considered a wonderful resource in her work at PhdKingdom, where she advises beginner writers uncovering all the peculiarities of creating content that sells.

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