This is a pretty optimistic article describing all of the steps and approaches to getting a computer to translate between two languages. Given that machine translation still sucks even though we have had 60 years of research and literally billions of times the computer capacity, I’d say it was a harder problem than they expected.
Translation by Machine
Its wide study has been stimulated by the need of scientists to keep abreast of publications in several languages. Although a mechanical translator still does not exist, encouraging progress lias been made
by William N. Locke
Suppose you became interested in working in a new field opening up in your line of work. Your first step would be to get all the background you could on the subject. To take a concrete example, let us say that the new field was the design of electrical switching networks. Looking through the literature, you would certainly find the pioneer 1938 paper by Claude Shannon on the theory of such networks, and a number of other, less important, papers. But how likely would you be to discover a Russian paper entitled
And even if you saw listed somewhere an English translation of its title (“The Application of Boolean Matrix Algebra to the Analysis and Synthesis of Relay Contact Networks”), how could you know that this article in the Russian language was the most important contribution to the field next to Shannon’s original paper?