How does Human Translation compare with Machine Translation?

Guildhawk | Jan 5, 2024 11:57:40 AM

In the constant search for new customers in global markets, where buyers expect to see products sold in the language they understand. Small wonder then that translation is a $56 billion industry and growing at pace.


For brands venturing into uncharted territories, the power of translation cannot be overstated. However, with the benefits of translation come the challenges of costs, turnaround times, and intricate workflows that can either enhance or hinder the efficiency of the translation process.

Can we truly rely on machine translation for accuracy when addressing diverse target audiences? The answer is not a simple dismissal. As forward-thinking brands seek a delicate equilibrium between precision and speed, exploring the realm of pros and cons becomes paramount.

In this blog post, we delve into the juxtaposition of machine translation versus human translation and discover that the human touch is now more important than ever before.

The Power of Human Translation

When it comes to expressing the subtleties and nuances of language, there is no doubt that humans have an advantage. Human translators possess the ability to understand cultural contexts, idioms, and the unspoken message within a text.

After all, languages evolve, slang and new terms that were once alien to humans, become international, think what Googling meant in 1924? Human linguists understand language and the world around them because this is their vocation in life.

They can adapt to the tone, style, and intention of the original content, making sure the translated text resonates with the target audience and new words entering the dictionary like Brexit for example, are used appropriately.

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Pros of Human Translation

1. Cultural Sensitivity: Human translators have an innate understanding of cultural nuances and regional variations. This allows them to adapt the translation to suit the target audience, avoiding any cultural faux pas or misunderstandings.

2. Contextual Understanding: Humans possess the unique ability to decipher the contextual meaning behind a text. This enables them to accurately translate idioms, metaphors, and other cultural references that may otherwise be misunderstood by machines.

3. Quality Assurance: Human translators can proofread and revise their work to ensure accuracy, coherence, and consistency. They can detect errors, omissions, or inconsistencies that may have been overlooked by machines. It is especially important to have a human to verify and fact check a translation generated by ChatGPT because OpenAI (the providers of this service) warn that responses generated can be wrong or contain bias. Learn more about ChatGPT risks in this post HERE.

4. Complex Content Handling: When it comes to highly technical or industry-specific content, human translators reign supreme. Their in-depth knowledge and expertise can navigate the intricate jargon that machines might stumble over. Their unique industry knowledge and professional credentials help to create authentic, original translations that can later be used to train Machine Leaning models.

Cons of Human Translation

1. Time-Consuming: Human translation is a meticulous craft that requires time and patience. Tight deadlines might not always align with the careful consideration needed for accurate translations. Translation speed can be improved by using multiple linguists, ISO:9001 quality management systems and machine learning tools like GAI.

2. Cost: Quality comes at a price. Hiring skilled human translators can be more expensive, especially for large-scale projects, making it less viable for budget-conscious ventures. Translation costs savings can be made by using a managed translation service like GAI Aided or GAI Expert-in-the-Loop that uses machine translation with a human touch.

3. Subjectivity: Different translators may interpret a phrase or sentence differently. This subjectivity introduces an element of variability that can affect the consistency of translations. This is mitigated by verifying terms with a second or third linguist and feeding this new knowledge into an official term base and translation memory.

Machine Translation: The rise of algorithms

With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, machine translation has made remarkable progress over the years. Machine Translation (MT) systems utilize algorithms to translate text from one language to another, creating instant translations at the click of a button.

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Pros of Machine Translation

1. Speed and Efficiency: Machine Translation systems can process large volumes of text in a matter of seconds, making them ideal for quick translations or when time is of the essence.

2. Cost-Effective: Machine Translation is often more cost-effective than human translation. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses or individuals with limited translation budgets.

3. Consistency: Machine translation ensures a consistent translation style and terminology, as it follows pre-defined rules and algorithms. This can be advantageous for technical or specialised content that requires consistent terminology throughout.

4. Constant Evolution: Machine Translation algorithms continually evolve, learning from vast datasets. This adaptability means they can improve over time, addressing and rectifying errors in their previous translations.

The Limitations of Machine Translation

While Machine Translation has come a long way, it still faces several challenges that human translators effortlessly overcome.

Cons of Machine Translation

1. Accuracy and Reliability: Machine Translation systems can struggle with idiomatic expressions, complex sentence structures, and ambiguous vocabulary. This can lead to inaccuracies and mistranslations that only human translators can detect and rectify. OpenAI advises users of its ChatGPT translation tool to verify results because they may be wrong.

2. Cultural Adaptation: Machine Translation can lack the cultural sensitivity and understanding that human translators possess. It may not fully grasp the cultural nuances, causing translations to sound awkward or inappropriate in the target language.

3. Subjectivity and Creativity: Translating creative and subjective content, such as literature, songs or poetry, requires a level of interpretation and artistic flair that machines simply cannot replicate.

4. Over-Reliance on Technology: Depending solely on machine translation might lead to a disconnect with the human touch. In sensitive situations or industries where personalisation is crucial, an over-reliance on algorithms could be a detriment. It is especially important to get a human linguist to verify translations of scripts that will be spoken by Digital Humans because errors here can increase fears of fake news and cause reputational harm.

GAI safe AI: The best of both Machine Translation and Human Translation

In the realm of translation, both human and machine translation have their strengths and weaknesses. While machine translation provides convenience and speed, human translation shines in its ability to capture the essence of language and culture. The choice between the two ultimately depends on the specific requirements of each translation project. The perfect solution is a blend of human and machine translation, and that is now available.

Say goodbye to old, manual translation workflows, by saying hello to GAI. The GAI software is remarkable because it translates text and documents in PDF, PowerPoint and other formats with ease. It has the first easy to use, automated Expert-in-the-Loop feature that lets you have a human expert verify your translations. It also saves translations for you.

You can integrate GAI into your digital platforms via an API or use the secure portal. Best of all, it's secure and keeps your data private. If you want your digital ecosystem to be multilingual, now you can do it quickly and easily. Learn more about how our technologies work in our FAQ pages.

Take a free trial and see why so many global companies choose GAI.