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Why machine translation cannot replace human translators

Published on 09/01/2023

Índice de contenidos

Index of contents

Index du contenu

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  1. Machine vs. Humans
  2. The consequences of a bad translation
  3. Conclusion

1. Machine vs. Humans

There are many misconceptions about artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to translating languages. AI is not as good as humans in this field. It is unable to understand the nuances and delicacies of a language and can produce inaccurate translations. This is because machines do not have the same intellectual capacity as humans, so they cannot be trained to understand context and nuance as humans can. That is why AI cannot replace human translators. Steven Pinker, an experimental psychologist, made the point in a recent discussion, saying that “artificial intelligence cannot understand the nuances of language as people do, nor does it have common sense”. Everything that a translation agency can provide, a machine cannot. It is very common in an increasingly digitalised world for company websites to be translated from one language to another using software. Let's take the example of a website that you want to translate from Spanish to English, German, Italian or Portuguese. Most likely, numerous grammatical errors will occur, as a software is not able to provide an accurate translation.

2. The consequences of a bad translation

Let’s consider for a moment what happens when we come across a poorly translated text. This is very common when we get our hands on the instructions for any appliance manufactured in another country. On these occasions, you have to practically guess what they are trying to say, because the translation does not add much. Machine translation, gives a bad image to the clients, who see how these texts have been solved and sold. Usually you can be sure to lose trust of those clients.

There is no doubt that human translation is absolutely necessary, and for it to be complete and accurate to what is required, a translation company is the best option. On the one hand, a software is able to translate from many different languages, but fails to master any of them. Moreover, translation is not a task of changing one word for another, but needs to have a meaning and be done in a very concrete way. Otherwise, someone reading a translated text may have great difficulty understanding it.

When machines translate, it’s usually word for word, but it is not able to make logical sense of the text. This is where the human factor comes in, to find meaning in each specific word and adapt the text to what is to be expected. The lexicon and grammar are too complex for machine translation, it does not manage to create sense. When it comes to technical texts, such as legal or health texts, it is extremely important that the human translator is involved.

This is how to find the right nuances that guarantee a well-done translation. It is clear that for many people, translation is not a subject to which much attention needs to be paid. It is clear that those who do so are gambling with their reputation and that of their livelihood. Would you trust a company that does not properly translate its services or products on the Internet?

3. Conclusion

Translations, whatever the language, must always be carried out and supervised by professional translators. This is the only way to guarantee absolute precision. It's not just about the context, it's about the tone. Each translation has to be oriented to a specific target audience (professionals or not), something that a machine cannot do. Therefore, the value of a translation agency or translation company makes it possible for that meaning to be what you are looking for.
Anything less is a step backwards and a bad showcase if you are offering services or products on the Internet. Your international clients deserve much more than machine translation.

Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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