Automated translation of German to English medical text

G. William Moore, U. N. Riede, Richard A. Polacsek, Robert E. Miller, Grover M. Hutchins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The feasibility of automated translation of scientific and medical documents remains controversial. This report describes a minicomputer-based German-to-English translation system (TRANSOFT) that employs word order rearrangement followed by word-for-word translation and disambiguation based on context. This translation system was applied to a computer-readable version of Adler's Knochenkrankheiten (Bone Diseases), which contains 118,604 words, with 10,216 distinct words in 7,211 sentences averaging 16.4 words each. The translation required 2,791 word rearrangement formulas, 78 percent of which were first used in the first half of the document. There were 2,392 occurrences of 12 potentially ambiguous terms, of which only 18 (0.8 percent) were not resolvable from the immediate context. As foreign language medical documents become increasingly available in computer-readable form through computerized typesetting, electronic publishing, and improved optical character recognition equipment, automated translation systems may provide a rapid and inexpensive means of obtaining draft translations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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