Some ethics for MT related to endangered languages

Let us sketch what could be some ethical requirements related to machine translation regarding endangered languages.

  • Perhaps a first requirement would be: don’t publish translation pairs regarding an endangered language until the success rate has reached at least 90%. Because instead of helping, it could harm the endangered language in question. For some people could publish these low quality translations, which could have the effect of depreciating the concerned endangered language. There is probably room for discussion here. For even below 90%, some translators could be helpful to some people. But to the very least, it could be suggested that a MT for a given endangered language should display its current success rate.
  • Another point that relates to ethics regarding endangered languages, could be the need for preserving the diversity that is inherent to a given endangered language. For most of them come in variants. Accordingly, we should take into account the main variants of endangered languages, and provide, as far as possible, translations into these main variants. There is recursivity of some kind in this process: if we are to enhance endangered languages in order to preserve language diversity, we should also take into account that diversity when concerned with a single language.

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