In today’s globalized world, businesses are looking for more ways to expand into new markets with plans of winning them over with personalized and localized customer experiences. And not just new businesses but global brands too have started increasing their focus on more localized content and outreach to ensure larger reach and following. This in turn has fueled the need for effective and great translation services.
A great translation is more than just a word-for-word conversion from one language to another. It captures the meaning and feeling of the original text while still being understandable to the target audience. This is no easy task, and it requires both a deep understanding of the source material and the target language. Moreover, a good translator also has a feel for idioms, colloquialisms, and other cultural references. In short, a great translation is a work of art, and it can be difficult to achieve without a personal touch.
In today’s age of technology, it’s easy to assume that machine translation is the way of the future. After all, machines are faster and more accurate than humans, right? Well, not exactly. Anyone who has ever used a machine translation tool such as Google Translate knows that the results can often be humorous, confusing, or simply incorrect. While machine translation has come a long way in recent years, it still falls far short of human translation in terms of accuracy and fluency. There are several reasons for this. First, machine translation relies heavily on word-for-word translation, which can often lead to errors when translating idiomatic expressions or sentence structures that are not literal. Second, machines cannot always identify the intended meaning of a sentence, leading to incorrect translations. Finally, machine translations often lack the nuance and precision that is essential for conveying the intended meaning. While machine translation has come a long way in recent years, there are still some things that only human translators can do. Here are the top seven reasons why human translation is still the best:
1. Machines can’t pick up on nuances
Nuances are one of the hardest things for machines to translate accurately. Nuances refer to subtle differences in meaning or tone. They are important in translation because failing to accurately convey these nuances can change the entire meaning of a message or statement. This is because nuances are often dependent on context, which is something that machines have a hard time understanding.
For example, consider the word “sick.” In English, this word can mean either “ill” or “cool.” A machine translation would likely just pick one of these definitions at random, but a human translator would be able to understand the context of the word and provide an accurate translation. Another example, consider the use of honorifics in languages like Japanese or Korean. These words, such as “san” or “ssi,” are used to show respect towards someone and can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Machines may not pick up on these nuances, but a human translator would be able to accurately convey them in the translation. The same goes for sarcasm, humor, and other forms of irony; machines simply aren’t equipped to deal with these things yet.
2. Machines don’t always understand the context
Context is another important factor that machines often miss when translating text. For example, the word “bank” can mean either a financial institution or the edge of a river. A human translator would be able to tell which meaning was intended based on the context of the sentence, but a machine might not be able to do so. This can lead to some very confusing (and potentially humorous) translations if not handled properly by a human editor. One of the main ways human translators can produce high-quality translations is by taking into account the context of the text they are translating. This includes factors such as the tone of the text, the audience it is intended for, and any special instructions from the client. Machines, on the other hand, are not able to take these factors into account and as a result, often produce translations that are inaccurate or confusing.
3. Human translators may have specific industry expertise
Another advantage that human translators have over machines is industry expertise. This is because human translators often have prior experience working in the same industry as their clients, which gives them a better understanding of industry-specific terms and phrases. Machine translations, on the other hand, typically are not well-versed in industry-specific content and as a result, may not be able to provide accurate translations for most technical or industry-based content.
4. Only human translators can provide culturally appropriate translations
Another reason why human translation is still the best is that only human translators can provide culturally appropriate translations. This is because machine translations often lack an understanding of cultural context, which can lead to translated text that is offensive or insensitive.
Human translators, on the other hand, are typically familiar with the culture of their target audience and as a result, can provide translations that are appropriate for the target culture. Cultural references are references to things that may not be known by people from other cultures, such as historical events or pop culture references. These types of expressions often need to be translated in a way that conveys their meaning without losing their original impact, something that machine translation is not always able to do.
5. Human translators build relationships with clients
One of the biggest advantages that human translators have over machine translation is that they build relationships with their clients. This is because humans can establish rapport and trust with their clients, which helps create long-lasting relationships built on mutual respect. Human translators are often available to answer questions and provide feedback on translations. They can also make changes and corrections as needed. Apart from that, this rapport with clients helps them in understand the mindset of the clients better and thereby tune their translations as per the exact need and context of the clients.
Machine translations fail to have that extra touch and end up not fully understanding the client and their scenario, nor incorporating them in the translation styles.
6. Human translation is more efficient in the long run
While human translations may take longer times to process than machine-translated ones, they will likely be of better quality and more cohesive. Human translators can look at connected translation projects as a whole and provide translations from a more cohesive standpoint but machine translation tools consider each content as separate and fail to understand the bigger perspective.
For example, if there are separate content pieces to be translated but are part of the same brand’s website then only a human translator can bring a cohesive perspective to the translations and ensure that the brand messaging is consistent in terms of flow and connect with the audience, while machine translations fail to do so. That’s why in the long run, translations with a human touch are more efficient than machine translation.
7. Machine translation can often produce comical results
Another downside to machine translation is that it can often produce comical results, especially when translating from one language to another with very different grammar structures. This can be amusing for native speakers of both languages but can also create serious communication problems if the translations are being used for business purposes. Machine translation can often create nonsensical “gibberish” instead of actual translations. This is because machines often have difficulty understanding complex sentence structures, particularly those that contain subordinate clauses or long lists of items. And, for someone who has lesser knowledge about the language in which the translations are made it is very difficult to catch these issues and that may cause big blunders in terms of the brand image.
Source: Babbel Magazine
Despite the rapid advancements in machine translation, there are still many reasons why translations will always need a human touch – especially when it comes to business communications. Machines lack the ability to pick up on nuances, understand context, or provide culturally appropriate and cohesive translations. In order to produce an accurate translation that sounds natural in the target language, you need a human translator with verified expertise in the target region and if possible also having valid industry experience. Human translators also build relationships with clients, which allows them to better understand the client’s needs and wants. In short, machine translation isn’t going to replace human translators any time soon. While machines can provide a first pass at a translation, it’s always best to go with a professional for important documents and brand communications. After all, you wouldn’t want your business making comical or culturally disastrous errors in its translations, would you?
So next time you need something translated, be sure to not forget to ensure that human touch!