Why is human translation better than machine translation

Pepper Content
July 2th, 2020

With the rise in globalization, the need for translation is increasing. The history of machine translation dates back to 1954 when IBM 701 translated 49 sentences from Russian to English. However, the popularity of machine translation increased only in the late 1990s when free online translation services were introduced. There were many confusions and performance issues when it was introduced first. Lots of improvements have been made in the past two decades on machine translation but still, it is better to go for the best translation services for your translation needs rather than free machine translation. Do you want to know why?

Why is human translation better than machine translation?

To know the answer you should know the pros of human translation and the cons of machine translation.

Human Translation vs Machine translation

Source: https://speakt.com/

Cons of machine translation

  1. Technical limitations are its biggest minus
    Machine translation is not ideal to handle translations because of its shortcomings. What are its technical limitations?
    • Machine translation is not accurate. It can do only word to word literal translation. It creates unintelligible phrases.
    • There is a difference in the actual meaning and context when you use machine translation.
    • The same language spoken in the same country may differ from one region to region. Machine translation does not understand local terms and expressions.
    • It cannot translate technical terms and industry-specific terms.
    • It cannot correct grammatical errors.
    • It cannot handle a few phrases and expressions.
    • The number of errors may multiply when machine translation moves through three languages. For example, to translate from Russian to Chinese, the translation system may use Russian to English and then English to Chinese. Using a pivot language to translate may lead to more errors.
    • It cannot translate homonym words correctly. For example, the word ‘squash’ has three different meanings.
  2. Machine translation is free but can turn out to be more expensive
    You may be tempted to use machine translation as it is free but in reality, you cannot use it without editing. It needs a lot of rework. You have to pay for a human translator again. A professional translator knows editing machine-translated documents needs the same time and effort as translating from scratch. So it may actually turn out to be more expensive. Instead, it is better to get the services of the best translation services.
  3. It can be an embarrassment to the sender
    Sending a message translated by machine translation can place the sender in an embarrassing position when there are technical and cultural errors. It can ultimately result in losses to the business in case of professional cases and misunderstandings in personal cases.

Pros of Human translation

  1. Only humans can do figurative translation
    Do you know that refrigerator in Tamil language is called ‘kulir sadhana petti’. When literally translated it means ‘cool equipment box’. Machine translation does literal translation whereas human translators do a figurative translation.
  2. Understanding formal and informal tone
    Using informal tone may be disrespectful in a professional circle. Human translators know where to use a formal tone and where to use a casual tone.
  3. Understanding jargon and slang
    With the technology advancing at a rapid phase, new jargon is frequently used in website contents. Only professional translators are familiar with jargon words and slang words.
  4. No need of rework
    When you entrust your translation work to the best translation services, the need for rework will not arise. This saves time and cost.
  5. Adding human touch
    A machine is a machine and a human is a human. A machine cannot replace a human. Only humans can add a human touch to the translation. Humans have cultural sensitivity. Professional translators with knowledge of cultural norms of other languages are the apt choice to add a human touch to cultural-sensitive translations.
  6. Proofreading and editing
    A good translator proofreads the draft repeatedly to find errors and correct them. He will rewrite the outline to make sure that the content makes sense and delivers the correct meaning. The final draft will look like an original document and not a translated one when done by a professional translator.
  7. SEO strategies
    A professional translator helps you to review SEO strategies and make sure that your well-researched SEO strategies are not wasted when the content is translated into another language.
  8. Establishing brand identity
    Every brand has to establish an identity and a tone in its website. A human can understand this and will make sure that the brand identity is not lost.

Human vs Machine translation

There is a long list of the cons of machine translation and a long list of the pros of human translation. Does that machine translation have no pros and human translation? No, both have pros and cons.

Speed is the biggest advantage of machine translation. It is a good choice and is cheaper if all that you want is gisting and to get a general understanding of the content.

The turnaround time of human translation is longer and can be costlier. However, when it comes to reliability and accuracy, human translation is the best.

If you want the true meaning and the actual feeling of the content to be imparted in the translated document, you need the services of a professional human translator. Make sure you go to the best translation services if you want the translation to be accurate with perfect grammar and appropriate in word choices and to maintain the right tone.

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