Machine Translation VS Human Translation

by | Sep 2, 2013 | Communication circuits

Many people think of translation as very straightforward, comprising merely transforming one language into another. However, it is a lot more than that. Translators are  required to transform not only text but also the author’s thoughts and emotions into the other language. It requires a lot of expertise and a superior level of responsibility on the part of the translator to translate while staying true to the meaning, spirit, and tone of the writer.

Currently, there are two major ways being used by translation services for the purpose of translation – machine translation and human translation. Machine translation employs different computer software to translate texts. Machine translations certainly have their advantages. They are time efficient as well as less expensive than human translation. However, these advantages themselves sometimes tend to become shortcomings. They may be fast and cheap, yet one cannot solely rely on them. Machine translations are unable to bring the same warmth and emotions in the translation texts as human translators do. In addition to this, despite the impressive speed of machines, because they provide strictly a literal translation of the text, the sense and spirit of the text might sometimes be distorted, inappropriate, or wrong. Humans are better equipped to transform thoughts, emotions and feelings in a text, as well as discriminate the appropriate vocabulary for the particular subject matter and situation. Machines are designed to provide a word-to-word translation and usually they will be unable to convey the similar meaning as that present in the original text.

Human translation might be expensive and time consuming. It may take hours and days to translate a text into another language properly. However, the results will speak for themselves. In comparison, human translation will be clearer and more precise than machine translations while keeping true to the essence of the author’s writing.

Another added advantage of using human translators, particularly while translating sensitive legal documents such as birth certificates, divorce certificates, immunization cards and medical documents, etc., is that only human translators possessing relevant skills and knowledge regarding these sensitive documents can translate them accurately. Machine translations will fail to mimic this mastery.

Another issue surrounding machine translations is cultural complexity. A human translator who has interacted in a certain culture personally knows the cultural and language distinctions and can translate the language perfectly according to that targeted culture. Only a human translator can ensure that the translation made for a specific culture is culturally sensitive and suitable for the intended audience. One can obviously not rely on machines to perform such translations.

The translation business is a tricky and complex one which is constantly evolving with passing time. A real understanding of this area can only be trusted to human translators who possess expertise regarding different languages, know the subject-matter at hand and fathom cultural complexities. Just as a machine cannot be expected to create a marvelous symphony or a remarkable piece of art, it also cannot replicate the abilities of a human translator.



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