Translation is quite a powerful and essential tool for communication. It is one of the pillars of a global company, and you can take advantage of it to scale your business or deliver your causes to a wider audience. Many are aware that translation is a complete game-changer. Hence, it is equally important to know what kind of translation would best serve your needs.
You may opt to use human translation or machine translation. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so precisely knowing your goals can help you better decide which of the two is right for you.
Utilizing technology to do the translation process for you is known as machine translation. Here, all you need is to select a base and target language to get started. This is why it is considered a quick and easy fix for your translation needs.
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Fundamentally, what machine translation does is to use artificial intelligence tools to provide an equivalent word or phrase from a base to a target language. Basic machine translators are very common, and some can even be found and used online for free. An example of that is Google Translate, capable of dealing with more than a hundred languages in its arsenal. These free websites are best used for casual translation but might not be very effective in highly sophisticated texts.
More advanced machine translation devices or software, on the other hand, are usually specialized per industry. They can be equipped with the lexicon exclusive to legal practice, business, the academe, weather reporting, and so on. As such, you might have to buy your own software or pay the service fee for machine translation companies if you want access to these more efficient machine translators.
Generally, we can say that the use of computer software for personal or corporate translation needs has steadily become more commonplace as the years roll on. After all, these computer programs have proven themselves to be of extreme benefit. Here are several reasons why several individuals and industries use machine translation:
It is a general fact that computers beat humans in terms of speed. Computers have the ability to do translation work at an astonishingly high speed because base and target languages have been pre-uploaded to the programs. They can also process huge volumes of data efficiently.
More often than not, businesses are bombarded with plenty of content to translate. Since such a load is too much for humans to handle within a short time frame, most companies and e-commerce businesses like DapperFam, for instance, rely on machine translation.
Machine translation is not only the quickest but also the most consistent method of translation. This is because computer translation software is programmed to use the same wording, syntax, and style. The mathematical formulas behind machine translation are very definite, resulting in sentences that are seamless and coherent.
A high-caliber machine translation software can be designed to store hundreds of languages in its vocabulary. We are talking about millions of distinct words and phrases here. And what’s more impressive is that computers can learn languages as well. They can be fed with new information for them to use in translation tasks.
Because of those features, it follows that a single machine translator can cater to a lot of potential stakeholders. The versatility of this computer software is a much-needed advantage because it can lead to lower costs, especially for businesses requiring translation services.
Encryption and Confidentiality
A lot of documents requiring translation are for corporate or diplomatic purposes. And most of the time, these documents require confidentiality. If you want your records’ contents to remain discreet, then machine translation software can be trusted. These computer programs can be designed with an encryption scheme that prevents leakage of vital information.
Major Drawback of Machine Translation
While machines excel in speed and consistency, they still lack in some aspects. For one, accuracy can be compromised. Computers also cannot consider cultural nuances when it comes to the wordings. Hence, they cannot precisely deliver your message.
While machines top the translation in terms of speed and consistency, it still cannot fully replace human intelligence. There are factors that computers cannot simply win over, such as accuracy, language expertise, and cultural sensitivities. Here is a more elaborate explanation of why human translation is still sought-after, even after the emergence of technology:
Compared to machines, human translators can make your content more fluent and accurate, which is very important, especially when it comes to certified translation services, for instance, where accuracy is required. Moreover, what human translators have that computers don’t is that they can convey the exact message that you want to deliver and use it in the right context.
Your content must be sensitive towards cultural norms and beliefs, regardless if it is for your business or personal use. Artificial intelligence (AI) does not have this mastered yet; that is why human translation beats machine translation in this aspect.
Machine translations have systematic structures, so it is still unable to perform translations from various file formats like PDF, DOC, TXT, and the like. If an individual needs immediate translations of reports and only has a JPEG/PNG file with the inability to type the document, machine language would be rendered useless.
Times of Dysfunction
Machine translations also tend to not work, which would cost people a lot of time and possible profit due to delays. When situations like these happen, most would be stuck in a situation of hoping and waiting before succumbing to finding another machine translator again.
Downturn in Marketing
There may be a backlash in using machine translations in many companies like Lilian Real Estate, for instance, because the brand messages may be translated word-for-word, which the machine service is systematically trained to do. It may cause discrepancies with your target market that will make them turn away from your brand.
Because of machine translation’s tendency to lean towards formalities, nuances, slang, and other culturally new phrases may not be included in its translation. The wording has a major chance of being off track and it would make for the defeat of capturing a demographic’s attention because of the wrong usage or wrong translation.
Difficulties in Specifics
Like the problem above, machine translations also find trouble translating industry-specific terms such as medical jargon, which would be difficult for those who understand this language. Unlike humans, machines cannot relate certain terminology to a relatable and commonly-used word.
You also cannot expect machine translations to catch on grammatical errors thoroughly because they would still focus on word-for-word translations over the grammatical sense of the sentence. Thus, doing literary or technical writing translations would be best done by human translators.
Sometimes, when you are finally done with your translation of content, it seems as if there are missing links in the translated text that gives the “choppy feel.” This part is crucial in sending the right message to people, so it would need more work, which compromises more time than saves it.
To make a mark in the international market, website translations are common. To hit a target market, your SEO must be a great bullseye. However, you may find a problem with this due to website translations’ leaning to translate word-for-word. Your translations may not exactly show up as a keyword in another language. Due to this, you would find it hard to reach a higher search volume.
Major Drawbacks of Human Translation
The linguistic capacities of humans are still above those provided by AI, considering that we have evolved with the necessary skills and anatomy for communication. Unfortunately, proficiency in languages alone does not suffice sometimes. Businesses and other entities that need translation for profit-making consider practicality and choose their method for translation.
When practicality gets included in the equation, human translators tend to be left behind by their machine counterparts. Here are some reasons why a human translator may not be the most practical option for you or your company:
Finite Skillset of Human Translators
In the previous paragraphs, it has been established that computers are incredibly efficient in terms of storing hundreds of languages — vocabulary, syntax, semantics — into their archives. Human translators, even the most brilliant among the group, will not be able to go anywhere near that level. It is common to see a human translator skilled in less than ten languages in the industry.
The rationale for this is that it takes someone a lot of time to learn a language fully. Add to that the fact that human translators need to pass a battery of certifying exams before they can legally do translation work. These limitations prevent human translators from acquiring a proficiency that is on par with machine translators.
Slower Rate of Work
The main reason why the earliest computers were invented is to speed up calculations. Now, complex and repetitive mathematical calculations that would take a person hours to solve can be done by computers in seconds. The same can be said for translation. If translation were to be a race, humans would be the turtle and machines would be the hare.
For companies that have time-sensitive operation backbones, waiting for hours to get a translation done means a potential loss of profit. That possibility of losing money makes them lean more towards automated translators.
Yes, human translators have been trained to eliminate the use of subjective biases in doing their work. They also sign a formal agreement that they would be as factual as possible. However, incorporating one’s biases is an unavoidable part of the translation.
For instance, when a phrase from the base language has two equivalents in the target language, the human translator would most likely choose the phrase that aligns with his principles. This act of choosing, in itself, involves biases and it is something innate to humans.
Acquiring translation software may initially cause a large dent in your company’s expenses, but it will make up for its cause in the long run. On the other hand, human translation tends to cost more per document. Hiring human translators frequently may not be a practical option.
When to Use Machine Translation
Machine translation really comes in handy if you are looking to beat the challenges of time constraints. It also offers cost-efficiency and excellent professionalism. However, it is not always applicable. So, when can you use machine translation?
Bringing in the Revenue
When your part of the business seems to lack revenue or profit and you want more professional content translations, a machine translation would be of great assistance.
Embarking on project expansion or market testing would be detrimental for you as you have to know what works best for your possible audience. This is why the judgment bias of human translations should not have much space yet in the beginning. Thus, generic machine translations would be a good objective standpoint.
If the translation you need is basic, formal, professional, machine translations could provide you with exactly what you need.
When to Use Human Translations
Human translations usually give soul and meaning to your content. It has the power to provide the right context, which is essential in maintaining your market. So, when is the right time for them to shine?
Accuracy is Key
If you are looking for accuracy and have more time on your hands, human translations can make all the right judgment calls for you, both in context and grammar.
Human translations still provide the touch only humans have in content and context, so if you want to appeal to your audience through emotions and communication, choose human translations.
Quality over Quantity
Since humans are sensitive to culture, context, and slang, human translations are preferable when you want quality content that would suit your audiences and drag in more of the like.
Which is right for you?
Needless to say, both translation methods have varying strengths. What you can do to choose the best option for you is to evaluate your needs first. If you need to translate the content within a time pressure, maximizing machine translation is more fitting. Otherwise, seek human translation services.