Machine translation has come a long way in recent years. Not only are online tools and mobile apps getting more accurate, they’re getting more popular. As more people expand their boundaries and take off for places unknown, they’re taking their apps with them. This allows them to ask the locals the million-dollar question of the day: Where can I find the nearest washroom?
Great for Trips, Not Great for Life
Mobile apps are fun on adventurous trips, but they aren’t going to explain the mission statement of your business to employees in your international office.
When it comes to important documents, even the most advanced tools have difficulty translating for clarity. While they do well on a sentence-by-sentence basis, “when it comes to evaluating the entire document, human translations are rated as more adequate and more fluent than machine translations” (Technology Review). This is likely due to the fact that human translators understand two important things that can change the entire meaning of a document: culture and context.
Culture and Context
The foods people eat, the games that they play, and the words that they speak all come from their culture.
Culture dictates the meaning behind what people do and say, and humans are adept at picking up that meaning. Machines have trouble with nuances, slang, and sarcasm. When someone says, “I love that,” with an emphasis on love, it can mean two different things: They’re either expressing a high affection for the object, or they’re sarcastically expressing that they don’t like the object at all. A machine won’t know the difference, but a human will know because they understand the culture of the author.
A machine translation tool cannot understand context when words have multiple meanings (such as “run”). It may provide inaccurate translations that can cause mass confusion throughout the document. A human translator, however, can look at the context in which the word was written and provide the correct meaning in an instant.
The Human Touch Makes a Difference
Translation apps are fine when you’re stuck on a train in Mozambique and you want to ask someone how much further you have to go. Online document translators are nice when you want to get a basic idea of what a sentence is trying to say. But neither one is going to help you decipher important legal documents, understand medical advice, or plan a marketing campaign. When it comes to documents that make a difference, there is nothing like human translation.
At ITC Translations, we have a human touch that goes beyond words. We have over 2500 professional translators from all over the world who are not only skilled in the languages they translate, they’re skilled in the industry they translate for. They are expert linguists who can get your point across to your audience in a clear, concise manner that speaks volumes. Contact us today to discover how the human touch can make a difference for you.