Three Things Technology Can’t Do That Human Translation Can

Machine translation quality has dramatically improved in this decade. It most likely has to do with pattern recognition. Google’s technology with which you can take a picture of any text (on any surface!) and have that text translated made many people’s dream of, “I wish I could read that!” come true!

Does this kind of instant-translation technology threaten the translation industry?

Maybe it does. But here are 3 things current technology CAN’T do yet:

  1. You can’t ask an online translation tool, “Is this really correct?”
  2. You can’t make special requests from an online translation tool. “We’d like our document to not be too formal. Adopt our tone in the document. You know what I mean…”
  3. You can’t provide culture-specific guidance or feedback to an online translation tool. “In my culture, some words should not be used in this type of document…Some words have hidden meaning…”

Machines aren’t all that bad though. Here are 2 things computers can do better and faster than humans: storing memory and memory retrieval. That is why we translators use Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools. CAT tools enable translators to focus on everything else that computers CAN’T do such as reading between lines, checking accuracy, applying the best tone for the project, ensuring consistency, and making sure the translated document is smooth, natural, and culturally and ethnically sound. Human translation can lift barriers between readers and content, ensuring the reader understands the original meaning of your content. By using a human translator for your content, you will be able to maintain a meaningful connection with your clients and customers that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Touch reader’s emotion, keep its helpfulness, make improve ease of reading, and keep its scent.

Machine translation might provide a reader-centric experience, and it might not. Human translation will provide a reader-centric experience. Which would you choose?

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