The Human Touch – Human Translation Vs. Machine Translation

Human Translation vs Machine Translation

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Google Translate can be installed onto your browser and with the push of a button, any website, document, anything can be translated. But not very well…

The truth is that human language, even written language, is filled with nuances and details that a machine is not likely to catch. These are the times that you need a human translator.

Machine Translations: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses

The use of computers to translate documents and webpages started very early in the life of these amazing machines. Today, it has evolved into a massive business and provides free and paid translations billions of times each day.

When you click on a website, your browser will often translate it automatically. This power is amazing and allows us to read and see what people all over the world are seeing every day.

Machine translations, even for a professional translation company, can be a starting point. It’s the place where the translator can begin the process of looking at what you’re trying to say and help you say it.

As mentioned above, though, it has it’s weaknesses. While it might be fine for reading the day’s news in Russia or China or South Africa, it shouldn’t be trusted with business contracts, marketing materials, and other places where lack of precision can cost you a lot of money.

Human Translation: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses

Human translation is done by someone taking a source material and converting it to a new language. This is usually done by a professional translator who has been trained and practiced in doing language to language translations well and efficiently.

The biggest weakness is that most of us can’t afford to have a translator on call 24 hours a day. If you are a world leader and someone from another country calls, there will often be a translator in between. Those people and that service are available all the time. For the rest of us, we need to plan ahead a bit.

A human translator can take a document, a recorded speech, or even a live event and translate it well. They are able to see beyond the strict meaning of words to introduce nuances and cultural differences that a machine is hard pressed to understand.

What are the benefits of machine translation?

Machine translation has numerous benefits, some of which include:

  1. Increased efficiency: Machine translation can translate large volumes of text much faster than a human translator, which can increase the efficiency of businesses that need to translate large amounts of text regularly.
  2. Cost savings: Using machine translation can be less expensive than hiring a human translator, especially for low-priority or routine translation tasks.
  3. Consistency: Machine translation systems can provide a high level of consistency in translation, which is important for businesses that need to maintain a consistent brand voice across multiple languages.
  4. Improved accessibility: Machine translation can make content accessible to people who speak different languages, including those with disabilities that make traditional reading difficult.
  5. Rapid translation: Machine translation can quickly provide a rough translation of content, which can be useful for quickly understanding the general meaning of a text.
  6. Multilingual communication: Machine translation can facilitate communication across languages, breaking down language barriers and enabling people from different countries to connect with each other.

Overall, while machine translation has some limitations and may not be appropriate for all types of content, it can provide many benefits for businesses and individuals who need to translate large volumes of text quickly and consistently.

What are the benefits of human translation?

Human translation also has numerous benefits, some of which include:

  1. Higher quality: Human translators can provide a higher quality translation than machine translation, particularly for complex or technical content that requires a deep understanding of the subject matter.
  2. Cultural nuance: Human translators can incorporate cultural nuances and context into their translations, which is especially important for content that needs to be culturally sensitive or that is aimed at a specific target audience.
  3. Adaptable to different formats: Human translators can adapt translations to different formats and mediums, such as marketing materials, legal documents, or creative content.
  4. Editing and proofreading: Human translators can provide editing and proofreading services to ensure that the final translation is accurate and error-free.
  5. Language expertise: Human translators are typically experts in their language pairs and have a deep understanding of the nuances of both the source and target languages, enabling them to provide a more nuanced and accurate translation.
  6. Legal validity: For legal documents, human translation is often required to ensure the translation is legally valid and can be used in court.

Overall, while human translation may be more expensive and time-consuming than machine translation, it can provide a higher quality and more nuanced translation that is essential for certain types of content and industries.

Why Not Both?

At AfroLingo, we don’t see machine translation as another example of machines taking the place of humans. We see these wonderful tools for what they are: tools to make our work easier and maybe even a bit better. Nonetheless, no piece of translated work leaves our offices without being reviewed for accuracy by a trained translator and a project manager. No professional translation company should allow machine translation be all they do either.

Machines and humans can work to bridge language barriers and open up the world to everyone, together.