Would Shakespeare Approve of the Other Bard’s Translations?

Would Shakespeare Approve of the Other Bard’s Translations

2023 will be remembered as the year generative AI shook the world. Although the technology had been around for a few years, it was not until the release of ChatGPT in late 2022 that the language industry at large began paying attention. 

By the time 2023 ended, many AI applications were already available in the commercial space for voice and text translation. And large language models (LLMs) are making it possible for many language service providers (LSPs) to test the waters of AI language technology. 

On the financial side, macroeconomic conditions played a part in a reduced number of mergers and acquisitions, close to 50, compared to previous years. In 2022, the number was approximately 70. 

We asked readers if they agreed with the notion that 2024 will be slightly less crazy and challenging than 2023, and the majority of respondents (43.4%) said that the current pace will continue. A little over a third (32.1%) said that it is time to consolidate a bit, and close to a quarter (24.5%) believe things will accelerate even more.

Have You Seen My GPT?

On January 10, 2024, OpenAI launched the GPT Store. Anyone who is a ChatGPT Plus, Team, and Enterprise subscriber can create a custom ChatGPT for any purpose, including translation, within usage policies. 

OpenAI said in the blog post announcing the GPT store that there will be a “GPT builder revenue program.” The first creators to monetize their GPT will be US-based, to be paid based on user engagement. At press time, the payment terms were not available, but OpenAI said they would be set during the first quarter of 2024.

We asked readers if they would build and launch a GPT on the OpenAI store, and most (55.6%) said “no.” About a third of respondents (33.3%) are undecided and said “maybe,” while the smallest percentage (11.1%) is sure they will and chose “yes.”

Non-English Source and Media

Non-English content has become critical to Netflix, representing about 30% of all viewing, as the company’s own “What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report” revealed in December 2023. 

Although other streaming services have been slower to add more non-English content, sourcing and investing international content acts like an insurance against local issues for production houses. Think writer and actor strikes, pandemics, and the like, which could happen again no matter how much people wish them away.

We asked readers if they were watching/streaming more or less non-English content than three years ago, and slightly more than half of respondents (51.1%) said they were watching the same amount. A sizable group (40.0%) is watching more non-English content, and the rest (8.9%) are watching less.

What Would The Bard Think?

There seems to be no conclusive evidence that any of William Shakespeare’s works were translated while he was alive, but “The Bard” did borrow words and phrases from other languages, and other playwrights borrowed his ideas across Europe. Google Bard, on the other hand, can now handle the translation of Shakespeare’s entire works into more than 40 languages in record time using the Gemini model.

In 2022, empirical research showed that evaluations still favored humans in literary translation. But as of January 2024, with proper training and fine-tuning, LLMs are getting better and better at translation, regardless of style and genre. Despite skepticism from literary translators and authors, machine translation (MT) is making its way into literary translation, as evidenced by some literary translators commenting on social media about being asked to post-edit by some publishing houses. 

We asked readers if they thought that machine translation (MT) use will become widespread in literary translation in 2-3 years, and about a third of respondents (31.9%) said it was unlikely.

Less than a quarter (20.2%) of readers think it will not be the case, and the rest were split between those who think it will probably be so (17.0%), maybe it will be so (16.0%), and yes, definitely it will be so (14.9%).

Editor's Note: After the publication of this article, Google decided to sunset the Bard brand (less than a year after launching it). Bard is now Gemini.