Friday, March 24, 2023

ChatGPT on Child Translators and Bilingualism



If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT you must have been sleeping for the past two months. Never has software or firmware caused such a kerfuffle. There’s so much  about ChatGPT and the like – let’s call them generically Chats – which are fed by vast amounts of stored texts and from which they extract and reformulate output. This is what it seems to me that I do when I formulate my texts. The notion that we generate sentences by building a combination of syntax and vocabulary is greatly over-simplified. Most of the time we draw on phraseology we have previously read or heard, that is to say most of our language output is built up of prefabricated elements strung together. It’s not so much generative as imitative, although we have the advantage over the Chats for now that we can check and postedit as we go along. This is important because Chats reproduce errors in their input: as the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.


Use of the Chats is arousing much controversy. Some schools and universities have banned them and are even going back to pencil and paper for exams. Other people see them as an educational aid. They are a particular boon to students whose first language is not English, because they make few language errors.


So on the principle that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I decided to try ChatGPT out on a couple of topics that are bound to be of interest to readers of this blog. The following are the results. 


Q: Can children do translation?

Chat: Yes, children can do translation, however, their ability to translate accurately and fluently will

depend on many factors such as their age, language proficiency, and level of education. Children who are exposed to multiple languages from an early age tend to develop better language skills, including the ability to translate. However, it is important to note that translation is a complex task that requires a deep understanding of the source and target languages, as well as cultural knowledge and context.


Q: How many languages can a person learn?

Chat: A person can learn as many languages as they have time, resources, and motivation to learn. There is no theoretical limit to the number of languages a person can learn. However, the number of languages that a person can be fluent in or near-native in is often limited by their cognitive and linguistic abilities, as well as the amount of time and effort they are able to put into learning each language.

So far so good. A student who gave those replies in an exam could hardly be failed, although references are lacking. Now let’s try something that requires more thought.



Write one page about the advantages of being bilingual.

Chat: Being bilingual has numerous advantages that can positively impact an individual's personal and professional life.

Firstly, bilingual individuals have a competitive advantage in the job market. Many employers value bilingual employees, as they can expand the company's customer base, enhance communication with clients, and facilitate business opportunities in other countries. Bilingual employees are often sought after for roles in customer service, marketing, translation, and other fields that require language skills.

Additionally, being bilingual has cognitive benefits. Studies have shown that speaking two languages can enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills, improve memory, and delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Bilingual individuals often have to switch between two languages, which can help improve cognitive flexibility and multitasking abilities.

Furthermore, being bilingual can also lead to cultural competence and a better understanding of other cultures. Learning another language opens up new perspectives and can broaden an individual's world view. Bilingual individuals often have a better appreciation for cultural diversity and are able to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds.

Moreover, being bilingual can enhance personal relationships and travel experiences. Knowing another language allows individuals to converse with people they may not have been able to communicate with otherwise, making it easier to form new relationships and connect with others. When traveling, knowing a second language can make navigating a foreign country much easier and more enjoyable.

In conclusion, being bilingual has numerous advantages that can enhance an individual's personal and professional life. It can lead to a competitive advantage in the job market, cognitive benefits, cultural competence, and improved personal relationships and travel experiences. The benefits of being bilingual are numerous and should be considered by anyone looking to expand their skills and opportunities.

 Now write one page in French about the advantages of being bilingual.

Chat: Les avantages d'être bilingue

Être bilingue signifie être capable de parler deux langues couramment et avec aisance. Cela peut apporter de nombreux avantages, tant sur le plan personnel que professionnel.

Tout d'abord, être bilingue peut améliorer les compétences linguistiques en général. Apprendre une deuxième langue peut renforcer la compréhension et la maîtrise de la première langue. De plus, cela peut également ouvrir la voie à l'apprentissage de langues supplémentaires, car les compétences linguistiques acquises dans l'apprentissage de la première langue peuvent faciliter l'apprentissage d'autres langues.

Sur le plan personnel, être bilingue peut enrichir la vie en permettant de communiquer avec un plus grand nombre de personnes. Cela peut également renforcer les liens avec les amis et la famille qui parlent une autre langue, ainsi que faciliter les voyage dans des pays où la deuxième langue est parlée.

Enfin, être bilingue peut également apporter des avantages professionnels considérables. Les employeurs sont souvent très intéressés par les employés bilingues, car cela signifie qu'ils peuvent communiquer avec un plus grand nombre de clients et de fournisseurs. De plus, les compétences linguistiques peuvent également être un atout pour les opportunités de carrière dans les domaines internationaux, tels que le commerce, la diplomatie, ou le tourisme.

En résumé, être bilingue peut améliorer les compétences linguistiques, enrichir la vie personnelle, et apporter des avantages professionnels considérables. Il est donc fortement recommandé d'apprendre une deuxième langue pour profiter de tous ces avantages.

Notice that the French is not an exact translation of the English so it must have been composed separately, perhaps from different data.


More soon on this topic.