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Machine Translation vs. Common Language: Effects on Idea Exchange in Cross-Lingual Groups

By Hao-chuan Wang, Susan R. Fussell and Dan Cosley

Abstract

Diversity among members of international teams can be a valuable source of novel ideas. However, to reap these benefits, groups need to overcome communication barriers that stem from differences in members ’ native languages. We compare two strategies for overcoming these barriers: the use of English as a common language, and the use of machine translation (MT) tools that allow each person to communicate in his or her own native language. Dyads consisting of one English-speaking American and one native Mandarin-speaking Chinese participant exchanged ideas to perform brainstorming tasks, either through English or using MT. We found that MT helped the non-native English speakers produce ideas but that both native and non-native English speakers viewed MT-mediated messages as less comprehensible than English messages. The findings suggest it can be effective to support crosslingual communication with asymmetric design, using MT technology to help people produce messages in their native languages, while leaving incoming messages untranslated and leveraging people’s second language proficiency for comprehension. Author Keywords Machine translation; idea exchange; cross-lingua

Topics: Experimentation, Human Factors
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.352.2422
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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