Like all industries, many people assume that technology will overtake human translators. Everyone from science fiction writers to your average Google user thinks that computers taking over translation will happen any day now. All this is still in the realm of the former, though, and it looks as if machines will never be able to replace professional translators.
You might wonder why that is, but the reason is quite simple: even basic conversation is more complex than most people realize. Context, irony, emotion, and many other concepts we take for granted are also concepts computers can’t understand from a straight piece of text. As such, trying to use translation tech to save money only wastes it!
The State Of Translation Tech Today
Language has become a common barrier in a world that is more interconnected than ever. Luckily, there are more ways to overcome this barrier than ever, too! No longer do most organizations think about keeping their products or communications restricted to one language; now, with a whole world full of markets out there, why not take advantage and translate your messaging?
This something that many people have taken advantage of in their private lives, too. Most translation tech – the free programs that come up on search engines – is designed to handle consumer needs, helping the casual, day-to-day interactions. The gulf between private and the public is wide, and if companies that don’t understand this fact will learn its importance the hard way.
Why Technology Will Not Be Able To Replace Professional Human Translators
While you may not need advanced language arts in order to say hello to a friend in another language, an organization’s needs are much more diverse than that. What about describing the function of technology in an instruction manual? Or reflecting the intricacies of a legal document? Every job and language has various degrees of complexity, and technology can’t keep up or understand how context works in many cases.
Many people believe these are good enough to, at least, facilitate new interactions, but this is not the standard expected of advertisements, corporate documents, and other necessary communications. The default of technological translators is literally changing a piece of writing word for word from one language to another. Translating literally can seriously affect the impact of the connection you’re trying to make with a target audience! While it can give the correct impression of the text, translating accurately means understanding the many layers of meaning and cultural context. Computers can’t understand these layers!
Not every communication comes in a form that can be accurately read by a computer program, either. Handwritten notes and directions, industry-specific acronyms, and hard-to-read scans are all obstacles that machines can’t overcome. The results can be pretty funny, as anyone who has read a bad machine-based translation can tell you. However, when a professional translator sees how attempts to rely on tech have hurt businesses, we’re only left shaking our heads!
Success in the translation industry requires having a team that can interact with a wide variety of clients. They must be able to translate and proofread every sentence so that businesses can communicate across borders and markets. The basic humanity of all language is why we’re not worried about technology replacing our professional services!