Why Machine Translation Loses—and International Translation Services Win

  |  August 8, 2018

International translation services offer multiple benefits over machine translation.

Technology certainly provides valuable assistance in practically every commercial and personal application. We often wonder how we lived without certain technological aids, and cannot function without some.

For instance, you’re likely reading this article on some sort of mobile device, like a tablet or cell phone. How do you react when you accidentally leave these devices behind?

Technology even aids in the process of professional translation, with tools like translation memory. But, while technology is advancing, it cannot replace the benefits of human translation and the expertise of international translation services.

In fact, a 2017 study from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies found that human translations are significantly better than translation programs.

This is due to the fact that even the most advanced artificial intelligence programs cannot duplicate all the complicated processes of the human brain. Machines can provide valuable assistance, but nothing replaces the trained linguistic experts utilized by international translation services.

Hang onto your device and let’s take a deeper dive into this topic.

International Translation Services vs. Machine Translation

Many ask the question, “How does machine translation work?” To answer this, we must understand what machines and technology can do and what they cannot do.

Machine translation tools like Google Translate, Bing Translator, Yahoo! Babel Fish and Yandex Translate operate using Statistical Machine Translation, which begins with a huge amount of base language data and gathers loads of additional data from users over time.

This data is then used to offer clients the best combination of translation in any given language pair, according to a statistical formula. Such programs give a mechanical, direct translation of words that do not communicate smoothly or read naturally in many cases. Other problems with machine translation include mistakes when interpreting important cultural nuances or popular idioms.

An increasing number of government agencies are relying on machine translation tools to help constituents and employees. However, the U.S. Department of Labor warned, “It is seldom, if ever, sufficient to use machine translation without having a human who is trained in translation available to review and correct the translation to ensure that it is conveying the intended message.”  

After evaluating machine translation options, including the world’s foremost machine translation software, The Australian Institute of International Affairs categorically states that, “Google Translate is only appropriate for unofficial purposes—it should never be the chosen method to communicate anything official.”

Official communications” is a broad term covering everything from the company’s website to employee manuals to sales literature. Even internal communications via email and instant messaging are official, and therefore should be accurately translated by a knowledgeable human translator.

In the battle of machine translation vs. human translators, the humans win. #documenttranslation Click To Tweet

Why International Translation Services Are Essential

Many believe it is possible to avoid international translation services and use machine translations for some applications. This is a serious mistake.

Although, for instance, Google Translate can automatically detect a language, it cannot understand the primary points of a website or nuances of text. Therefore, while you think you are quickly translating simple messages into a different language, you can never really be sure the translations are accurate, or even make sense.

This type of cutting corners to save a few dollars can end up costing your business much more than money. Misunderstandings, once communicated, are hard to erase and replace—especially those that cause offense.

Your best bet is to never risk miscommunication on any business-related communications by using machine translation services. Only professional international translation services can guarantee your messages will be conveyed accurately.

The Benefits of International Translation Services

International translation services use human linguistic translators to provide quality, custom translations. Only such a human professional can possess a full understanding of specialized language needs and industry-specific terminology that most clients require.

Machine translation cannot understand context, nuances, and gender voice. International translation services provide translators who are subject matter experts in various technical fields to guarantee accuracy and reliability with even the most technical documents.

While users of machine translation often print disclaimers warning of their unreliable outcomes, one of the benefits of a professional translator is the guaranteed satisfaction they offer. Quality international translation services are certified to ensure proven quality processes, customer satisfaction, and reliable translations.

Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of human translation is the way translators understand regional and cultural nuances relating to their specialty language. This allows for the unique subtleties of language that are vital to communicating your message as you intend, avoiding insults and confusion. Even the complex algorithms of translation software cannot accomplish that.

International Language Services has been providing exceptional international translation services for more than 35 years. Contact us today to get started!