With so many professional translation tools available online, many individuals and businesses these days are tempted to try out machine translation services. However, while online translation services can be useful for looking up a word or even translating the odd sentence, they are no match for human translation services when it comes to text of more than a line or two.
The reason that human translation continues to trump machine translation is simple – humans can think for themselves. Computer translation tools rely on pre-programmed lists of words in order to generate the translated text. They are unable to provide a context-specific, sympathetic translation in the same way that humans can. Computer-generated texts thus read as just that – a robotic regurgitation of the words that have been entered in another language.
Computer translations tend to be littered with mistakes. While they do have their uses – for example, an individual receiving a letter in another language may be able to translate it sufficiently in order to understand it using a computer – they are incapable of generating the kind of high-quality, naturally flowing translations that human translators can produce. Thus if the individual wishes to reply to the letter in language that reads correctly, he will need to use a human translation service in order to do so.
Humans’ ability to localize the text they are working with and to ensure that it is context-specific simply cannot be matched by machines – computerized language translation technology is just not sophisticated enough currently to provide flawless translation of more than a few words. It’s the reason that so many online job boards looking for translators request human translation only and state that ‘Google lovers’ need not apply.
Though it may be that at some point in the future machine translation catches up with human translation, that day is certainly a long way off. Only when machines can think and respond with the same intricacies as the human mind will true machine translation be possible – and if the Terminator films are anything to judge by, at that point humans will have a lot more to worry about than the accuracy of their translated documents 😉
What are your views on machine translation? Share your thoughts via the comments box.