- Machine translation uses algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically translate text, while Professional translators involves a trained professional providing the translations.
- Machine translations are good for casual correspondences and non-urgent deliverables, but for complex texts and official documents, Professional translators who provide certified translations are better.
- Elite Translations has access to the latest tools of the trade but remains highly human-centric in providing top-notch translation services.
Machine Translation vs Professional Translation Services
Today’s machines are known for their ability to do most human tasks, including providing translation services. While human translation involves a trained professional translating the content, machine translations use algorithms to translate words from one language to another. Both approaches are useful for cross-border communication, international business partnerships, or simple language learning.
Both methods have their strengths and limitations, and the choice between them depends on factors such as the language pairing, budget, and type of text to be translated. In this article, we’ll compare machine translation and translations done by humans. Here are the strengths, limitations, and best use cases for each method.
What are Machine Translations?
The first machine-driven translators only translated words without context or emotion. Eventually, companies created AI translators, which use advanced AI to translate not just words but also the message’s context and meaning.
Companies developed these tools through an AI model, which they “train” by feeding large volumes of data. This helps the machine translator learn context, syntax, grammar, and other translation best practices. Developers will rigorously test the AI capability of these tools so they can deliver the best outcomes possible.
Today, we can access these “smart” AI translators through everyday devices, including our phones. Some of these translation tools include Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, Linguee, and even chatbots like ChatGPT. In just five years, the US machine translation industry has grown to over $1.1 billion.
Companies develop machine translation tools using AI algorithms. They “train” AI models by feeding them volumes of data and conducting rigorous testing so these tools can make near-human decisions.
Strengths of Machine Translation
Machine translations take efficiency, accuracy, and time-saving to the next level. To illustrate:
- Machine translation can handle a wide variety of languages. You don’t have to vet hundreds of translators to get a translation in Spanish, French, or Haitian.
- Translation software and apps are often simple to use. Developers take the time and effort to ensure that their translation tools are up to standard and deliver an optimal user experience (UX).
- Machine translation provides instant results and can be cost-effective, especially for small and less important content (e.g., general forms, casual verbal correspondences, and basic language learning).
Limitations of Machine Translation
Machine translation can have some glaring drawbacks. In a nutshell:
- Machine translation is not as accurate as human translation, as it lacks an understanding of context, culture, and the exact meaning of the text.
- It can only translate literal sentences or words without understanding the intent and purpose of the target language. An AI translation tool still needs to be refined through further data collection and extensive AI training.
- The speed of machine translation may not always be a positive factor, as a translation requires thought to prevent mistakes.
- Embassies or overseas employment agencies require certified translations from a human translator or a translations company.
Strengths of Human Translation
You may prefer traditional human translation over machine translation for a couple of reasons:
- People often find human translation more accurate and useful than machine translation because it takes into account the complexities of language, such as grammar, sentence structure, and context.
- Human translators are native speakers of the target language and are trained in the subject matter they are translating.
- They can provide a better understanding of the text and ensure that the best translation fits the context of the document.
- Trusted human translators bring expertise that proves their authority to provide certified translations for official purposes.
Limitations of Human Translation
On the other hand, human translation also has its limits. Consider the following:
- Human translation can be more time-consuming and costly, especially for technical or specialized documents.
- In some cases, human translation might not be worth time and money if you just need to accomplish small, trivial tasks.
Conclusion: Machine Translations for Less Important Data, Human Translators for Complex and Official Document Translations
At its core, machine translation is suitable for unofficial purposes and can be cost-effective for small and less important content. In contrast, human translation is recommended for official use and when context is crucial for communication and understanding. For example, when you need certified translations for your work requirements abroad.
It’s undeniable that AI is far from surpassing human skill. Still, it’s worth considering machine translations as tools that help humans become more precise and efficient in providing top-notch translation services.
Elite Translations uses next-generation tools to drive efficiency and promote a tech-first future. That said, we remain human-centric and promise that all deliverables result from comprehensively vetted human experts. Ultimately, we believe that humans bring valuable skills to the table, generating desirable outcomes that no machine can replace.
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