Machine Translation vs. Human Translation and why the latter always wins

Let’s talk about us humans.

While we may occasionally get “lost in translation”, we sure know how to bounce back. We have accustomed to language translation through years of diligent practice, devotion and commitment to expertise. Thus, we are now able to recognize a problem when we see one. A machine wouldn’t know how to trace itself back from the dark, impermeable woods of linguistic mayhem because it simply wouldn’t know it got lost in the first place. That’s a big no-no for a professional translator – if there’s an obstacle in the way, you deal with it. But first, you need to be able to spot it dead on.

Let’s look at some facts.

Nowadays, there’s a host of efficient computer-aided translation programs, also known as CAT (computer-assisted translation). This new field of technology is both exciting and new. Be that as it may, we still fall short of a computer program that would be able to produce high-level quality when it comes to professional translation. We’re not talking about the perfect system here, as there is none. There is certainly no such thing as “immaculate translation”. But when we come face to face with a text that originated from another human, we can’t expect it to be picked up, understood and copied by a machine. We may be heading in that direction, but we’re not there yet. There are many more stops to our final destination.

Originality and Authenticity

This is what we do best. This is our strong suit. Incidentally, it appears to be a crucial component of a well-translated text, regardless of its style, form or type. It may be a legal document, a CV or a university application form; whatever the case, we’re dealing with content that has an array of linguistic layers that can only be fully deciphered by a human translator. When it comes to tone and style, machines can’t come even close to what people do on a daily basis. If, however, you are in a rush and don’t care if your text comes out lacking in originality and authenticity, then sure – you can let a machine bungle it for you in a flash.

Context is the Lifeblood of Great Translation

Want to crack a joke that will still get laughs when told in another language? Are you hoping to stay culturally relevant and to the point? You can do none of these things if you let a machine do the work for you. Human translation is by far the only type of translation that can pick up on jokes, subtle pop culture cross-references and nuanced subtext messages. This cultural awareness and sensitiveness is still out of the realm of CAT, much to our dismay. While we’re busy working toward that dream of one day having a computer do the work for us, we have to stay true to the facts. Pick a great translator or service that will go out of its way to help you stay original, authentic and culturally relevant. That’s the closest we’ve come to perfection in this field of work and if you care about being truly professional, then you know who to side with for now.

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