Torn between human translation and machine translation? Understand their underlying difference and see our comprehensive comparison to help you decide.
The debate on human translation versus machine translation continues. Often, new cases for and against each of these translations are put forth thanks to the learning of better human translation practices and constant improvements in technology. As such, the choice of translation type always boils down to the needs of the business/government/individual seeking in the service. Decisions between the two are often made based on the advantages the user wants.
This article reveals the pros and cons of these translation types. By the end, this information will help you choose either human translation or machine translation depending on your needs. But before that, let us define each of these translation types to comprehend their fundamental difference.
On the one hand, human translation refers to the conversion of words, speech, or texts while solely relying on the intelligence of a person. It is an excellent form of translation because it captures the nuances of meaning, language, and culture effectively. On the other hand, machine translation is a software-empowered process that converts content from a specific language to another. Despite being impressively fast, this form of translation falls short when words have different connotations or meanings.
With that out of the way, let’s now take a look at the pros and cons of these translation types. You will want to go through this invaluable information before you translate any texts.
The Pros and Cons of Human Translation
Check out the advantages of human translations:
- Highest Accuracy Is Guaranteed
Human translators are better placed to provide an output that is of a higher standard. They can pick up any mistakes (typos, misspellings, punctuation errors, and grammatical mistakes) during the editing phase and eliminate them.
- Better Contextual Interpretations
Humans can understand context effectively. Thus, they can offer befitting interpretations that capture the intended meaning.
- Effective Revisions
People can do thorough reviews of texts. They will not provide the same output as before after corrections.
- Creative Use of Language Is Maintained
Humans can identify and comprehend slogans, puns, metaphors, etc. As such, they can offer translations that do not distort the intended meaning.
- Natural Flow of Texts
Humans provide more in-depth translations as opposed to mere word-for-word replacements. They understand the idiomatic difference and are capable of giving expressions that are natural to a native speaker.
- Suitable Translations
People can determine the cases where literal translation will not suffice. In turn, they will provide the most appropriate alternative.
Let’s now take a look at the disadvantages of human translation:
- Longer Turnaround
People are slower than machines. It can take quite some time to convert more substantial amounts of text.
- Payment Is Necessary
Professional translators do not work for free. And that’s not about it; at times, you might have to part with a high amount of money to access their services.
- Fewer Languages
Unless you hire a translation agency with many translators, you can only get translations in the language pairs the translator can provide.
The Pros and Cons of Machine Translation
Below are the advantages of machine translation:
- Many Free Tools
Accessing translation tools on the internet is easy. Moreover, many of them are free. Examples of such tools include Skype translator, Google Translate, etc.
- Fast Turnaround
Machines provide instant translations. As such, they can come in quite handy when you need quick translation services.
- Multiple Languages
With only one tool, you can convert your texts from one language into several languages. For instance, machines are capable of offering translations from Chinese to English, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and so forth at the same time.
- Constant Developments
With each passing day, translation technology continues to evolve. As such, there are always improvements to the results you get from machines over time.
Now, here are the main disadvantages of machine translation:
- Low Accuracy Levels
Machines perform mere word-for-word replacements. Therefore, they often lead to farfetched translations that can cause miscommunication.
- Varied Accuracy Across Different Languages
While you might convert your texts into say, English well, the same result will not be achieved when you decide to convert your documents to another language, for example, French or Swedish.
- Machines Are Incapable of Translating Context
Machines yield mechanical translations which often do not suit the setting portrayed in texts. By doing this, you end up with content that does not convey the message you wanted to communicate initially.
- Costly Mistakes
While machine translations can see you make significant mistakes, mitigating and resolving the damage caused by incorrect translations can be costly. Your business might lose sales when you post content that the audience cannot understand and engage with.
- Tool Failure
There are times when translation software does not work. Therefore, you might be forced to seek out alternative solutions at the last minute.
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When Is the Right Time to Use Machine or Human Translation?
Use machine translation when:
- You have large texts to convert, and the general meaning is sufficient.
- The translated content never reaches an audience, for instance, when translating a document for personal research.
- Translating documents for company use. However, only do this when 100% accuracy is not needed.
- Translating larger parts of the text which a human translator will improve on later.
Go with human translation if:
- The translated content is for a consumer audience.
- You have to provide accurate translations, for example, product instructions, legal documents, medical documents, safety, and health content.
- You are translating content for creative language uses or marketing messages.
- Accuracy is paramount.
To conclude, the pros and cons highlighted here can help you choose the right form of translation for your work. Remember your needs should determine the decision you make and not the other way around.