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April 18, 2016
The age-old battle between man and machine translations continues to rage on due to the progressive development of real-time machine translation technology. From Microsoft’s Skype Translator and Google Translate to numerous tablet and smartphone translation applications, the availability of machine translation services has increased dramatically in the last 2 to 3 years. If it weren’t for the overall superiority and accuracy of human translation over machine translation, most companies would be putting their wholehearted trust in automatic translation services. Instantaneous machine translations that promise full passages, documents and complete websites to be perfectly translated into other languages are however a long way from replacing human, professional translation services.
Machine or automatic translation generates an equivalent text that communicates the same message in another language without the involvement of human translations. Since its conception, machine translation has had lofty goals however even the largest providers of machine translators see its accuracy as its downfall. According to the Microsoft and Bing Translator FAQ:
‘Language translation is extremely difficult, as the meaning of words and phrases often depends on the context and specialized knowledge of the domain area or culture…Currently, it still requires human skills to translate sentences without errors. The quality of today’s most advanced translation software is well below the accuracy and fluency of a professional translator, and many sentences are simply not understandable’.
Other machine translator services such as Dictionary.com provide similar warnings to those looking for accurate translations. No matter what method of machine translation is being addressed, one of the main underlying issues is its accuracy.
With the growing globalisation of commerce and business in Latin America, many business in Europe and the United States are struggling to effectively communicate with customers, officials, employees and partners. This has resulted in a demand for high quality and professional translation services. Having your business message lost in translation can not only be comical to your competition but it can be extremely damaging. When Pepsi began introducing their products into the Chinese market, their slogan ‘Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation’ was translated as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’. The importance of a quality, professional translation service is essential to the success of localising your website, product or services for foreign speakers and markets.
Translation is an extremely complex and delicate process where the linguistic and cultural aspects of the original text need to be preserved. The goal of accuracy cannot be gambled by a mechanical procedure which cannot fully understand the context. Differently from the approach of a machine translation system, trained and professional translators do not compromise on quality as they are inherently aware of the risk of a final translated text that has lost its meaning. Only a professional translator, native in the desired language can bring down the language barrier and deliver the correct message to the target audience, making communication and business across borders easier and more efficient.
While new and more advanced machine translators such as Skype Translator continue to improve with time, they still face an extremely long uphill battle to match the language accuracy, flair and creativity of a professional human translator. Machine translators may be useful for rudimentary one word translations in your spare time but human translators are expert linguists, wordsmiths, editors and more all wrapped in one. In addition to having a cultural insight, human translators are able to shape and perfect a piece, moulding it for better public consumption with a guaranteed level of context to the original document. As long as machine translations lack the insight and fluency of human translation services, they will always fall second to the quality of a professional human translator.
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