The Pros and Cons of
AI vs. Human Translation
Technology is changing our world. One of the benefits of technological advancements is the use of machine translation or artificial intelligence for our translation projects. Take for example Google Pixel, which instantly translates speech; and Microsoft Bing Translator, which translates texts immediately to help us communicate with people around the world. While machine translation is readily available and heavily relied on today, human translators are still as vital as ever – here’s why.
Machine translation is fast, cheap and commonly used today. However, the quality of translation is usually inaccurate, incomprehensible, and potentially misleading. Take for instance the translation of the sentence: “We had a light lunch.” Would we mean “light” as in “not heavy”, or “pale”? Electronic translation tools are not attuned to the various meanings of a word and are unlikely to produce accurate translations. In addition, since machine translation relies on data, poor translation will result if inaccurate data is fed into the tool.
- Instant translation and fast turnaround
- Several language and translation options
- Tools are usually free and easily accessible online
- Accuracy is improving
- Inaccuracies due to mechanical word for word translation
- Inconsistent translation
- Nuances, metaphors and puns may not be captured
- Style and tone of an article will not be transferred
- Mistakes can be costly
With any kind of translation project, accuracy is the most important. This is especially so when translating critical documents such as medical records, plane manuals and legal papers. The cost of potential mistakes under such circumstances may also be detrimental to your brand.
Content, context and language nuances are critical elements to look at for any translation project. Human translators and industry specialists will be able to provide high standards of accuracy for your translation projects. They know exactly whether a sentence should be paraphrased or translated literally. In some cases, they may also be able to transcreate your messages to suit the local audience. Though translation is not instant and comes with a price, you can be assured of context and accuracy. Human translators and linguists are also able to work closely with you to ensure that the translated piece effectively fulfils your objective. A persuasive piece of writing, for instance, will remain convincing when translated.
- Professional translation will ensure a high level of accuracy
- Industry standards and quality assurance processes are in place
- Specialist knowledge in technical, industrial or scientific areas
- Identify puns, metaphors, tone and cultural elements and correctly capture them
- Accurately deduce context and translate well with the intended meaning
- Longer turnaround time
- Subject to translation fees
If mistakes simply aren’t an option, engage a human translator who can apply his or her linguistic skills to your translation project. To transfer a document’s style adequately, a human translator will take into account the objective of the text as well as cultural nuances. A skilled linguist will also creatively adapt concepts, phrases, and tone, and even make edits and changes to sentence structures for greater clarity and relevance.
Make the right choice
While human translators are critical in helping brands expand into foreign markets, you may still leverage translation tools under certain circumstances. Examples include deriving the general meaning purely for research purposes, or preparing documents for internal use only.
Documents and messages that are intended for customer consumption should be translated using the skills and expertise of an experienced translator. Technical documents and creative marketing messages should also be translated with a high level of care, especially when it comes to a new website, product description or instruction manuals.
Professional translators are culturally aware, and can deliver messages that resonate with local audiences. Each target language has its own nuances and cultural rules, and working with an expert human translator can help you ensure consistency in messaging across all your markets.