The Machine Translation Hoax: Why Translation Tech is Not What You Think

Kelsey Raytranslation0 Comments

Machine Translation Hoax

“You’re a translator? Isn’t your job being outsourced to computers?”

Do companies today professional translator? As machine translation advances, isn’t it logical that human professionals are obsolete?

The answer is no. At least not for now.

Machine Translation: Great For Personal Letters, Terrible For Your Business

Google Translate works for personal questions and common idioms. But only in languages like Spanish, French or German. It’s especially useful for looking up individual words.

But if you are looking to translate a technical manual or transcreate a marketing slogan – you’re out of luck.

Free machine translators are not equipped for specific terminology. Think law, aviation or computer science. These machines have little competency in reconstructing anything other than simple independent clauses.

Simple phrases, word order, can be taken out of context. And this is just for literal documents. If you want to recreate a marketing campaign for your brand – stay away from machine translation! These software translate word-for-word or based on user entires. Audience research or cultural context don’t play a part.

Machine Translation isn’t a CAT Tool

A CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool isn’t your average machine translation. While it makes the job of many translators easier, it has limitations. For one, these tools are only as useful as the material you import into them. Translators use Translation Memories, dictionaries built with common words in a document.

Without a good translation memory, you are translating from scratch every time. And these tools are virtually useless with creative endeavors. Books, articles, and marketing slogans don’t repeat words as often.

CAT tools also suffer from the inability to process cultural contexts and style. Translators process the text from machine translation into something accessible.

Post-Translation Is Essential

A translator can rework a translation appropriately. He or she understands both the source and target languages. Unlike a general editor, translators can pick up on subtle differences between languages.

In The End

While machine translation makes the translator more efficient, it is a long way until translators are obsolete.

In other words, if you plan on writing to your friend in Germany, feel free to try out Google Translate. But if you need a German training manual or instruction booklet translated, find a translator.