We have all seen the astounding pace of development of many types of machines. Today, a small device that you can hold in the palm of your hand allows you to do things that people as recently as a decade ago could not even have imagined. Fortunately for us, the day when machines fully replace humans has not yet arrived. This is especially true in the realm of technical translation services.
Translation software has been in existence for some time now and these programs have been developed quite extensively. The Voice Over Times presents different benefits of machine translation: cheap, quick, and continuously improving. In many situations, they are indeed useful. For example, some translation apps for your smart phone can be used to quickly translate street signs. For high-quality translations though, software still cannot replace humans. Below are several reasons why:
Machines Cannot Understand Context or Culture
Technical translations need to be more than just straightforward conversion. The content must be translated in a manner that conveys the message intended by the original author. Part of the process is analyzing the “tone” of the writing, its audience, the author’s attitude towards the subject, and other related factors.
Translated text also needs to be localized. It should be aligned with the culture and regional area of the readers of the translated document. A fundamental weakness of machine translation is that while it has already gone beyond mere word-by-word conversion, it still cannot reliably take into account context, culture, and regionalisms.
Machines Are Too Literal
When humans talk to each other, they use a lot of idioms, humor, and figurative speech. They employ different words, phrases, and sentence structures to convey meaning. Wit, puns, metaphors, hyperboles—all of these will be lost in machine translation. Also, a lot of wordplay is culturally dependent; an idiom in one language may not make sense when directly translated into another.
Machines Can Help with Special Tasks
It’s clear that software won’t be replacing human translation any time soon. However, it doesn’t mean that computers have no place in the realm of professional translation. What computers can do in some particular instances is help human translators work faster.
With globalization growing more relevant than ever, professional translation companies like Excel Translations experience higher and higher demand. The Economist cited “translation memory” (TM) as an example. Translation memories are not the same as machine translations and should not be confused with a machine translation process. Translation Memories are databases that contain previously translated words and word segments for each language that is translated. Human translators can use these lists as references to speed up repetitive tasks in the translation process, thereby increasing their own productivity. The TMs also provide a high level of translation consistency from project to project.
Will Machine Translation Ever Beat Human Translation? Voice Over Times
Technology may not replace human translators, but it will help them work better, The Economist